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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:
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.
Asign at our Wil-Kil Pest Control Menomonee Falls office reads “Sanitation is Pest Control.” I asked our regional manager why the sign was there, and he said it is intended to be a constant reminder that many pest problems, especially small flies, are because of poor sanitation. Every time someone enters that office they are reminded of one of the most important parts of pest control — SANITATION!
At our company, we are constantly training our PMPs to document all conducive conditions, which of course includes poor sanitation. But how do we get our clients to practice good sanitation? After all, especially for food plants, we are not performing sanitation.
The answer is knowing how to effectively communicate and document poor sanitation practices for clients to implement/follow. But, before we do this, we must be knowledgeable about appropriate protocols for food plants.
WHERE TO START. Ask your client for an opportunity to review the master sanitation schedule to identify if any areas need to be added. Sit down and review areas that present a pest concern because of poor sanitation.
ON THE INSIDE. The following are areas that require proper sanitation on the inside:
Floors drains can be a big issue due to the build-up of food particles, water and other stuff that small flies and cockroaches love. Regular inspection/sanitation treatments are a must.
Processing machines can produce significant amounts of splatter and spillage that attract pests. It may be necessary to regularly take apart certain machine components to clean and inspect for pests.
Ceilings are a source of cobwebs and spider webs, and overhead pipes and exposed beams in warehouses must be cleaned regularly to prevent dust build-up that can attract warehouse beetles and other pests.
Loading docks are a prime area for pests since they are a collection point for everything people don’t know what to do with after use. Broken-down pallets, damaged boxes, spilled food commodities and excess moisture collects in cracks and crevices and attracts pests.
Break rooms, cafeterias, locker rooms and restrooms are pest hot spots because of the abundance of food and harborage locations. Employees bring in food and store it (and sometimes forget it) in lockers. Food waste may not be properly cleaned up in break rooms and vending machines may have food and liquid spillage. Regular cleaning and staff education are needed to lessen the pest threat.
Roof leaks can lead to big sanitation issues and the threat of harmful bacteria, including salmonella from bird droppings on the roof. If water collects in remote areas of a plant, it can support mold, fungi and insect activity.
First-in and first-out inventory management is another good practice. If product has been sitting on a shelf two years past its use date, it can spoil and attract pests. Be sure to document using a bar code system when product arrives and when the use by date is.
ON THE OUTSIDE. The following are areas that require proper sanitation on the outside:
Railroad sidings are prime areas for food spillage that can attract rodents and birds.
Weed control around plants and rail lines will eliminate potential pest harborage areas. Mow grass regularly, trim trees/bushes, choose plantings correctly (non-fruit bearing trees/bushes) and leave a 2-foot rock barrier around the exterior to reduce rodent burrowing.
Proper drainage is essential to eliminating fly, termite and mosquito harborage areas. Make sure drains in the parking lot and loading dock are clear, irrigation pipes and sprinkler heads are not leaking, and that gutters and downspouts drain away from the building.
Garbage/recycling dumpsters need to be placed on a concrete pad at least 100 feet from a structure. The pad, lid and bin – “dumpster juice” is attractive to flies, rodents and stinging insects – need to be cleaned regularly. Make sure staff does not place bags around the bin when it is filled; if this happens often, request more frequent pick-ups.
Equipment including pallets, pipes, storage racks, etc., need to be stored away from loading dock doors/entrances, and they need to be cleaned before they are brought back inside.
CHECKLIST. A sanitation checklist should include (adapted from Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations):
FINAL THOUGHTS. Providing your pest management perspective on what good sanitation looks like will help your food plant clients develop a more effective master sanitation schedule, which will positively impact your pest management success in that facility.
Shane McCoy has a master’s degree in entomology with 23 years of experience. He is the chair of the Copesan Technical Committee and director of quality and technical training for Wil-Kil Pest Control, Sun Prairie, Wis. He also has 12 years of pest management experience with the U.S. Air Force.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.
The disciplines of pest control and public health are closely related, both with rich histories, fascinating characters and important contributions (Goddard 2012). However, many people still view pest control technicians as “bug killers” and have little or no appreciation for their contributions to public health. Here’s what you need to know to dispel this myth for your staff.
PUBLIC HEALTH BACKGROUND. Long before we understood human anatomy and the causes of disease, health and hygiene issues were usually handled by religious leaders, who might attempt to solve them using potions, concoctions, plants, chants or devices. Some thought diseases were caused by unbalanced fluids in the body.
During the Roman Empire days, great strides were made in providing clean water and handling of sewage. Long, majestic aqueducts brought fresh water from great distances. Filth and dead animals no longer dominated city streets, and swamps were drained.
Then, came the Dark (or Middle) Ages (approximately 476 A.D to the 14th century). During this time of social upheaval, there was a significant disintegration in science and sanitation, and diseases raged. For example, roughly one-third of the population died from plague, or the “Black Death.”
The Renaissance (roughly the 14th-17th centuries) brought about a rebirth in health. Scientists and others started to study the human body and there was renewed interest in what made people sick. The crowning achievement came with the publication of the germ theory of disease in the early 1880s. The battle against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens was on!
PEST CONTROL BACKGROUND. The origins of organized pest control can be found in the Middle Ages, with the focus being on rats. “Rat Catchers” appeared in cities and towns with some, such as the Pied Piper of Hamlin, achieving notoriety (probably for reasons good and bad!).
Around the 18th century, rat catchers became somewhat specialized in their techniques; traps became a bit more sophisticated, chemicals appeared on the scene and rat-sniffing dogs were employed.
Starting in the 1840s and through the 1900s, many European rat catchers emigrated to the U.S., where they set up pest control businesses. This began the pest control industry in the United States.
DEFINITIONS. Before we get to the meat of the story, it is useful to look at a few definitions. Take a minute and ask yourself “What is a pest?” What did you come up with? One definition I like is “a pest is a species or organism that interferes with human (and animal) health, activities or property, or is objectionable.”
“Pest control” simply can be defined as “the theory and practice of controlling pests,” although we all know there is much more to it! But what about public health? This may not be quite as obvious to the reader. In 1920, C.E.A. Winslow defined public health as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society; organizations, public and private; communities and individuals.” (I added the italics to emphasize the three key pillars.)
Finally, what is “health”? According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (italics added for emphasis). We now have a firm foundation to examine a few specifics of how pest control benefits public health.
PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS. Sometimes I will ask one of my audiences, “How many of you provide pest control to your customers?” Of course, all hands go up (unless some folks are sleeping). I then build the argument that what they actually provide is peace of mind and quality of life. It may be a fine distinction, but I like it. Peace of mind and quality of life (that is what your customers are paying for) equals their mental well-being.
Customers also expect a professional job, from beginning to end, for the money they spend. When a sales professional or a technician shows up, that person is the face of the entire company so remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And don’t forget about consistent follow-up, after each service if possible. A simple phone call, email, text message or personal visit shows your customers that you care and want to solve their pest problems.
Remember that some types of pest infestations, such as head lice and bed bugs, may carry a social stigma factor. Impacted customers may feel embarrassed, ashamed or even disgraced. A little empathy and explanation of cause by the PMP can go a long way toward relieving anxieties.
To some customers, a few bugs may not be a big deal. Others may be entomophobic — they actually fear insects — and this is a real thing to them. Be sensitive if you encounter this situation but don’t confuse entomophobia with delusory parasitosis, which I will address later in this article.
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS. We all have encountered customers who are a bit chemophobic. This fear of chemicals may be the result of a lack of good information. Offering a brief explanation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be useful. Explain about thorough inspections, use of only EPA-approved products according to label, increased use of baits, exclusion, reduced-risk pesticides, etc. Granted, you will never fully convert some customers but they may rest just a bit easier.
PMPs minimize environmental impact at every opportunity. An easy and memorable way to express this is what I like to call the “Six Rights”: We use the right product at the right time in the right place with the right equipment at the right application for the right pest. Right on!
Pest control firms partner with formulators, distributors, producers, suppliers and regulators to ensure that products, equipment and methods are properly tested and evaluated, safe, environmentally friendly and effective. And remember that a violation of the label violates federal law.
ECONOMIC BENEFITS. We now know that a large percentage of asthma cases, particularly in children, are caused by pest infestations, especially cockroaches and dust mites. Effective pest control can help reduce the costs of doctor visits, medicines and lost work/school time.
Bites from wild animals are common. PMPs who specialize in wildlife control help reduce costs from emergency room/doctor visits, medicines and treatment regimens such as those given for rabies.
People aren’t the only ones who get sick. Effective pest control may help reduce the incidence, and hence the veterinary costs, of diseases such as dog heartworm, which is spread by a wide variety of mosquitoes.
Additionally, pest management services around agricultural accounts may result in increased milk and meat production, reduced annoyance from biting pests and reduced transmission of diseases, such as tularemia. The resulting decrease in veterinary costs coupled with the increased agricultural output can be extraordinary.
What about our food supply? We know that food production facilities can be shut down at a moment’s notice for any of several violations or findings. This may result in lost productivity, expensive repairs, replacement of equipment, modifications of protocols, and perhaps lost work time for employees. Proper pest management along with strict adherence to guidelines and regulations can prevent these types of episodes and save almost unlimited dollars across the country.
Unprotected food sources can become infested with a wide variety of stored product pests. In some cases, the infested product must be thrown away — there’s no choice. Again, regular inspections and proper treatments can mitigate these situations and save money for consumers, producers and distributors.
And, millions of dollars are spent each year combatting wood-destroying organisms, (plus the money that is paid out in damage claims). Again, effective pest management can be an important cost-cutting and cost-savings tool.
MEDICAL BENEFITS. We have already discussed the quality of life benefit, which can be psychological as well as medical.
Effective pest management helps reduce contamination of food sources by pathogens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about one-sixth of Americans (48 million people) will suffer from food poisoning; 128,000 will be hospitalized; and 3,000 will die. This all results in significant economic impacts. We now know that arthropods, especially filth flies, can play a significant role in transporting pathogens from feces to food so there is no question that effective fly control helps reduce contamination of food and resulting illness.
About 30-100 people die annually from arthropod stings, the majority from bees and yellow jackets. Effective pest management, primarily the removal of nests, reduces this risk and allows clients to better enjoy the outdoors.
Finally, pest control is an essential component in the battle against vector-borne diseases (VBDs). Several VBDs, such as Lyme disease, are increasing while others (Zika virus, Bourbon virus, chikungunya, dengue, LaCrosse encephalitis) recently have invaded the United States or are emerging. And West Nile virus continues to impact about 2,000 Americans every year on average.
DELUSORY PARASITOSIS. I like to define delusory parasitosis (DP) as “the unsubstantiated belief that ‘bugs’ are infesting a person, a person’s belongings or a person’s environment.” Involvement with one of these cases can be time-consuming, frustrating and result in unwanted consequences for the PMP.
DP is the most commonly reported delusionary disorder in the United States, with about 250,000 cases per year. It is most common in the elderly. Onset often follows a major life event (a death, divorce, etc.) and those afflicted may engage in self-destructive behaviors. These folks are 100 percent certain that bugs are everywhere even though your inspection may turn up nothing. They are also very persistent and usually self-medicating with heavy doses of pesticides.
PMPs should handle cases of DP very delicately. First and foremost, confirm that a pest is actually present before ANY treatment is performed. Remember that DP is a medical issue, not a pest control issue so don’t make any promises and don’t make any diagnosis. This can get you into trouble.
There are several great reviews on DP available so if you are not familiar with this problem, I would urge you to read up on it. Eventually, almost everyone working in the pest control arena will encounter it.
FINAL THOUGHTS. I hope I’ve convinced you that pest control and public health are intricately related. I like to think of them as fraternal twins; on the outside, there may not be much similarity but on the inside, there is much commonality. Both have made great progress and undergone significant change, and both are grounded in science.
Today’s PMPs are not just baseboard sprayers; they are educators, communicators, consultants and detectives. PMPs are key contributors to the physical, mental, social and economic well-being of society.
Both pest control and public health are noble professions that are forever intertwined. Dollars are saved, lives are spared and quality of life is enhanced, every day. Those who toil in either field have much to be proud of.
The author is vice president of technical products and services at AP&G (Catchmaster).