Posts Tagged family fun

The writing spider is busy writing mosquitoes out of the picture.

Argiope spider that eats mosquitoes

The black and yellow Argiope, also known as a writing spider, feeds off insects such as mosquitoes, aphids and flies.

This past week, my daughter and I were out on the back porch planting the usual autumn perennials. It is always a special time when we do our “seasonal” planting together, we get to spend some quality time with one another and I have an opportunity to educate her on different species of flowers and plants, which is a tradition she will one day pass on to her daughter. We decided to plant huge yellow chrysanthemums in correlation with rust colored majestic pansies both of which are so lovely this time of year against the changing leaves within the landscape. As we were busy getting our hands dirty, my daughter pointed out a large spider web right off our back porch attached to the azaleas around it. The spider was in a circular shaped web and the spider residing there was quite large, and scary looking, but yet beautiful in its own way. I discouraged the thought of getting rid of the spider until I learned more about this mysterious beauty.  I was curious about the type of spider we have living in such close proximity to our home and decided to do a little research on the spider.

charlottesweb

Charlotte, the beloved spider from "Charlotte's Web" was possibly a Argiope spider as well.

My gut feeling was that the spider we found was a “writing” spider reminiscent of the mythical spider from my favorite childhood book by E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web”. My intuition served me well. My findings concluded that the spider we have residing within our azaleas is actually an  Argiope, or black and yellow garden spider, also known as a  corn spider, and referred to as a writing spider as well, just like Charlotte from my beloved childhood novel.

What I discovered is that our guest, the black and yellow Argiope,  is a common spider found among fields and gardens because they like to spin their orb shaped webs among bushes , tall plants and flowers. The female Argiope is a good bit larger than the male, and judging by the size of ours, she is obviously a female. The female spins a large web which spirals out from the center and can be as large as two feet across. The male spider will then spin a smaller web for himself on the outside of her web and is has a characteristic zig-zag pattern. We have not yet caught a glimpse of Mr. Argiope yet, but are hopeful to catch a candid soon.  The interesting thing about the Argiope is that  each evening the spiders will eat their web and build a new one.

Argiope spider web detail

This photo shows the Argiope's elaborate web.

The purpose of the web, like all spiders is to trap and digest prey such as insects which are the spider’s main food source. The web also serves as a nursery where the female will lay her eggs on one side of the web and cover them with a papery sac for protection until they hatch in the fall. Then the baby spiders will remain within the protective sac throughout the winter, and will leave when mother nature harkens the arrival of spring. A single egg sac can contain over one thousand eggs. The Argiope like almost all spiders  is not harmless to humans and rarely, if ever bites humans except in the rare instance as a defense mechanism if they are grabbed.

Mosquito

The Argiope spider considers the mosquito among its favorite snacks.

There is more to this stunning spider than meets the eye, the black and yellow Argiope eats mosquitoes among the many insects that get caught in its web, which cuts down on the amount of disease carrying mosquitoes that are thriving along the realm of my backyard. Suddenly this spider is beginning to become my friend. They also dine on aphids and flies as well, this spider is helping cut down on mosquito populations and helping to keep aphids off my rose bushes? Based on these findings, we have decided to let the black and yellow beauty make herself at home. We will not disturb her as she raises her young and has her gourmet dinners of my aphids, flies and mosquitoes and other garden pests. Bon appetit !

So, before you squash that spider that makes you squeamish, give some thought to the many ways it may be of great benefit to you and the world around you. Many of the world’s most scream inducing  insects and animals, like the spider and the bat,  benefit us from being natural predators of potentially dangerous insects such as mosquitoes, making them an effective weapon is the battle for mosquito control.  For every mosquito they dine upon is one less we have  to potentially put us at risk.

Visit our Mosquito Squad website to learn more about our safe and effective mosquito and tick control programs. Or, look at our location list for a mosquito and tick control location near you.

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Among “skeeter eaters” the bat reigns supreme

Dread Skeeter Mosquito Control

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

The bat is a familiar image used to evoke fear and creepiness throughout the year and especially during the Halloween holiday. The infamous vampire bat is used to emulate a shape shifting capability that the vampires of Hollywood have become famous for. But even though we think of the bat as an icon of  o-hallows-eve, the bat is as beneficial as it is spooky. Bats like many other birds, fish and mammals live primarily off  of a diet of insects, and among those insects on the bat’s menu is the mosquito.

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

Bats are broken down into two suborders, megabats  and microbats.  Megabats primarily feed off of fruit nectar and pollen while microbats feed on insects. Microbats  are considered to be a mosquito predator and can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes that are likely to feed off of us as well as infect us with the diseases that they harbor. Bats come out to feed at dusk or right after dark and can eat a whopping 600 to 1,00 insects per hour. This is a substantial amount considering that the population of bats within a fusion can measure into the thousands. When you isolate a single bat eating mosquitoes it doesn’t paint the whole picture as accurately as taking the number of bats feeding off mosquitoes and other insects in one isolated area can.

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

Contrary to popular belief bats are not blind. Their eyes are quite small and underdeveloped, therefore the bat uses their heightened senses of hearing in order to locate and catch their prey. The bat uses a high-pitched sound that only other bats can hear and when the echoes from this sound hit an insect or another animal the echoes from their sound will bounce back off the prey and lead them to it. This incredible process is called echolocation.

Microbats begin hunting and feeding on their own at around 6-8 weeks of age, and a single microbat can live up to 20 years.  Research has indicated that if bats were to become extinct the insect population would explode at an alarming rate putting all of us at a greater risk for  insect-borne illnesses and diseases. A group of one thousand bats can eat up to  four tons of insects in a years time, this is proof positive that bats play a crucial role in keeping insect populations down and keeping us safer by doing so.

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Next time you see a bat at dusk quickly darting through the twilight skies at breakneck speed, take into consideration just how much good that little creature is doing  for us by reigning supreme as a natural mosquito predator. As a society we should think of the bat as the crown prince of mosquito control instead of an icon of the prince of darkness.

We thought our barrier control mosquito and tick prevention was pretty good by lasting 2-3 weeks with one barrier spray to your yard. Well, outside of bats, barrier spraying your yard is the next best thing.

Visit our Mosquito Squad website to learn more about our safe and effective mosquito and tick control programs. Or, look at our location list for a mosquito and tick control location near you.

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It’s Dragonfly Mating Season and All is Aflutter.

Splendor of late summer can be found via the dragonfly.

Splendor of late summer can be found via the dragonfly.

Just as we finish up our summer vacations and get ready to send the kids back to school, a jewel of late summer descends upon us. This last glimmer of brilliance before the leaves start to turn their magical hues of amber, gold and scarlet would come to us courtesy of the dragonfly.

That’s right, for those of you who haven’t noticed it is dragonfly mating season. Each year dragonflies come courting from late July until September while the temperatures are still warm. Dragonflies themselves are rooted deep into American and European folklore as being seen as evil and sinister as well as representing  purity and an active lifestyle in Native American cultures. These are all just myths, the truth is the dragonfly is a beneficial insect within our ecosystem because it eats mosquitoes as well as other insects that not only pester us, but also spread illness and disease.

red_dragonfly

This dragonfly will only live about two months in its adult phase.

The life cycle of the dragonfly contains three phases. These phases consist of the egg, the nymph and the adult dragonfly.  The egg stage of the dragonfly begins when the female dragonfly deposits her eggs onto a plant near the water, or into a pond or marsh. Once the egg hatches, thus begins the nymph stage of the dragonflies evolution. The nymph stage of the dragonfly can last up to four years, or until the conditions are favorable for the nymph to emerge from their marshy water home or pond and begin the flight into an adult dragonfly. During the nymph stage the dragonfly will feed on mosquito larvae as well as other larvae and small insects which dwell within or atop the water.   When the water temperature and outside temperatures are just right, the nymph dragonfly will crawl out its watery home and shed its  skin.  After shedding it’s skin, referred to as the exuvia, the adult dragonfly will emerge to feed on insects such as mosquitoes, and begin the search for a mate to start the life cycle anew. Unfortunately, adult dragonflies only live about two months, giving us little time to enjoy their grace and beauty amidst the late summer. Here is a video that shows the nymph dragonfly feeding on mosquito larvae…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miFN2o3woSw

dragonfly

The beautiful dragonfly is also beneficial because it eats mosquitoes and other insects.

So, if you were curious, like I was, as to why it seems like there is a sudden flurry in the dragonfly population during these recent summer days, the answer is clear. It is matchmaking time for these beautiful insects. Enjoy them while you still can in all their splendor, grace and glory before they are gone again until next year.

Mosquito Squad commends the efforts of the dragonfly in helping cut down the numbers in the mosquito populations. Many mammals as well as other insects consider the mosquito among its favorite meals. Mosquitoes continue to be numerous in their populations and dangerous because of the mosquito-borne illnesses they carry. Despite mother natures best efforts, it is still beneficial to exercise mosquito control and prevention within your property to keep mosquitoes at bay. Mosquito Squad offers many programs to kill and control mosquitoes. From our safe and effective barrier sprays, to our automatic mosquito misting systems. If you would like more information on how to keep your property mosquito-free the rest of the summer, and into the fall, contact Mosquito Squad to learn more. 804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

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Don’t let mosquitoes ruin the rest of your summer

Was your 4th of July celebration filled with the worst of the uninvited guests-mosquitoes?

Was your 4th of July celebration filled with the worst of the uninvited guests-mosquitoes?

How was your Independence day celebration? Did you and your family and friends get together for a little outdoor grilling, conversation and to show your patriotism for our nations birthday? I am sure like many folks all over this great land of ours you planned your celebration with relaxation, comfort and enjoyment in mind. But apparently the mosquitoes “thought” they were invited to the festivities as well!

Yikes, the mosquitoes came for the fun and invited all their friends and family as well. Maybe your celebration went a little like this… there were mosquitoes at the cookout, mosquitoes at dinner, mosquitoes while roasting marshmallows, mosquitoes during conversation and mosquitoes while we were trying to enjoy that decadent after dinner dessert or beverage. If this reads like a page from your diary, Mosquito Squad has the answer to all your mosquito woes.

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free

On Independence day, and any other day during this season, many of us entertain outdoors and this is especially true during the dusk and evening hours.  Mosquitoes are evening feeders and like to feed under the veil of night and cooler temperatures. Mosquitoes usually feed during those same times that we enjoy entertaining so effective mosquito control is a necessity for anyone who enjoys entertaining  outdoors during the spring and summer.

Mosquito Squad makes mosquito control effortless with our barrier sprays. Our safe and effective barrier spray kills mosquitoes and prevents more mosquitoes from “celebrating” in your yard. Mosquito Squad sprays regularly scheduled sprays throughout the season to keep your property free of the little pests all summer long. Our barrier spray is applied approximately every 21 days for continuous mosquito control. We also have an all-natural solution which offers  effective continuous mosquito control and is applied approximately every 14 days. When I say Mosquito Squad is effortless, it truly is, all you do to get started is contact your local Mosquito Squad to sign up and that’s it- we do the rest. You won’t have to worry about scheduling the spraying, or keep track of anything, we take care of the rest. You probably won’t even give mosquitoes a second thought since you and your family won’t be getting bit.

Keep you and your family off the menu this season with Mosquito Squad

Keep you and your family off the menu this season with Mosquito Squad

The season is still young, don’t let mosquitoes ruin your outdoor fun this summer. After all, it’s summertime, remember, and the living is supposed to be easy…isn’t that how the song goes? Make it easy to keep mosquitoes away from your and your family with Mosquito Squad.

Contact Mosquito Squad today to find and more and to sign up for our barrier spraying. We offer season long tick protection as well. Call  877-667-7823   or email us at info@mosquitosquad.com   and get removed from the mosquitoes menu.

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Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

DreadSkeeter_spring_flowers

Dread Skeeter wants you to enjoy your season bite free!

We have all heard the old saying “Blondes have more fun”. Famous movie icon Marilyn Monroe even pushed the envelope further in her 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. When it comes to insects, such as mosquitoes, which color would you think they are more likely to strike upon, brunette or blonde?

In this scenario we use the terms blonde and brunette loosely to characterize dark colors versus light colors. The simple elements of design teach us that colors are formatted into dark and light by the way they either reflect or absorb light. We researched what the mosquito is attracted to most and we came up with some interesting facts.

Mosquitoes are actually drawn to dark colors such as deep greens, blacks, browns and similar colors. The reason for the attraction is it mimics the colors found in dark foliage and thus, they are attracted to dark foliage as a place of refuge. Mosquitoes are also attracted to bright lights, such as incandescent lights. This seems like a contradiction in terms compared with dark versus light, but when choosing lighting to deter mosquitoes studies show fluorescent is the best choice.

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Certain scents draw a mosquito in for the kill as well. Overly fruity or floral fragrances are attractive to mosquitoes, as well as sweat. The carbon dioxide we exhale when we breathe is the main allure that draws mosquitoes to us. Certain foods we ingest are also prone to give off odors that the mosquito likes. Foods high in potassium such as bananas and strawberries affect our bodies by giving off lactic acid after we ingest these foods, and the mosquitoes love the smell of lactic acid.

Within your landscape you can deter mosquitoes by taking care of any standing water or any items that could collect standing water. Even small amounts of standing water could end up as a mosquitoes nursery for her new brood. Keeping your lawn mowed and tidy is a plus as well. Mosquitoes are drawn to unkempt lawns and property. Avoiding being outside during the feeding frenzy will help discourage unwanted bites. Mosquitoes generally feed from dusk until dawn. These common sense safeguards will help keep you safe and happy when entering untreated property and lawns.

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Another formidable deterrent to avoid mosquitoes bites all together is to contact a licensed professional such as Mosquito Squad. We can apply a barrier spray every 14-21 days to kill and prevent mosquitoes from entering your property.We realize however, that while enjoying all your favorite activities you will enter untreated areas and have to deal with mosquitoes during this season. We recommend using the knowledge and awareness you gain about mosquitoes to keep you bite free.

So, to answer the age-old question “do blondes have more fun”, the answer is YES, and so do brunettes, redheads and so forth, especially when they have their property taken care of by Mosquito Squad. Call us to find out how to keep the mosquitoes out and the fun in this season.

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Good Horse Sense- the Risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis is on the Rise

Is your horse at risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis?

It is not just man’s best friend and your furry feline who are at risk for mosquito-borne illness’s. Many of our beloved pets are at risk to contract deadly diseases from the mosquito, this includes our horses. If you are a horse owner or horse lover who enjoys the company of a gallant steed like I am, then you need to be aware of the dangers that mosquitoes can bring to you and your horse.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is spread by simple mosquito bites and can be fatal to our beloved horses. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is also referred to as “sleeping sickness” among veterinarians and horse folk. It was first recognized in 1831 when 75 horses died in Massachusetts from the illness. This virus was first isolated from the brain of a horse infected with EEE ( Eastern Equine Encephalitis ) ,in 1933 and in 1938 the first confirmed human cases of the disease were identified when 30 children perished as the result of the illness in the northeastern United States.

Symptoms of EEE are usually noticeable about 5 days after a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Initially the horse will seem depressed and become quiet. Other signs include impaired vision, aimless circling and wandering even when stalled, an irregular staggering gait, head pressing and rubbing, an inability to swallow, paralysis, convulsions and eventually death.

Since humans can be infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis as well, Symptoms in humans infected with the illness may include high fever, chills, sudden onset of a headache and vomiting, disorientation, seizures and coma.

Mosquito Squad protects horses from mosquitoes and ticks

Keep your horse from being at risk of contracting EEE

There is no specific treatment for EEE in humans or in equine, care is based on symptoms. So the best treatment is prevention of mosquito bites. Bites can be prevented by reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area. There are a couple of solutions for your horse stables and pastures. In your pasture, Mosquito Squad provides a mosquito barrier spray. This is a safe and effective spray that eliminates 90% or more of the mosquitoes and ticks from the area. It is sprayed every 3 weeks throughout the heavy mosquito season. Mosquito Squad also offers a mosquito misting system. Read this story about our misting system installed in a barn in Nashville.

The illness is rare in humans and common sense safeguards reduce your chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Have a licensed professional apply a mosquito barrier spray to your outdoor living areas is a good idea to avoid being bitten.

Even though the illness is rarely seen in humans, the numbers of our equine friends being infected is on the rise. Horses, donkeys, mules and ponies are all at risk of this deadly illness. The threat is real and horse owners need to educate themselves on preventing the illness. Fortunately, there is an EEE vaccine for equine now available. Since there is no treatment for a horse already infected with the illness, vaccinations are essential for the prevention of the disease. The vaccination is given in two doses 30 days apart, and a booster given every six months. These are preferably administered in the early spring through the early fall. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate vaccination schedule for your horse.

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad fights mosquito and tick bites

Prevention of mosquitoes is also key in keeping your equine healthy. Safe stabling practices and eliminating sources of standing water in the barn, paddocks and pasture is essential. This includes moist hay or grain, open containers and water troughs.

Simple safeguards and knowledge should be exercised from your backyard to the stable in order to keep you and your horse happy and healthy. Give Mosquito Squad a call, when can make good “horse sense” out of keeping mosquitoes away. 877-667-7823.

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Frozen In Time- The Resilience of the Mosquito

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

Spring fever is in the air again. Every year at this time our minds start to wander and dream of outdoor activities such as gardening, picnics, baseball games and backyard cookouts. Even though we aren’t quite over the “hump” yet in terms of temperatures staying steadily warm that doesn’t mean that mosquitoes haven’t already reared their ugly heads.

 

I recently had a conversation with one of our regular Mosquito Squad customers who generally starts her service in early May each season. She had called me to let me know that while planting pansies in containers on her patio she had received her first mosquito bite of the season. She called and moved up her initial barrier spraying a month in lieu of the bite.

Most people think mosquitoes die out in the winter only for a new generation of the little pests to breed and appear in spring each year. This is a common misconception. Actually mosquitoes are around us all year, even during the winter months. Mosquitoes remain inactive during the winter months. Some types of mosquitoes even lay winter hardy eggs which lie dormant in our soils until spring. Other mosquitoes can survive winter in the larvae stage, in what they call a state of dispause. Dispause mimics been frozen in time, as to say, development of the larvae resumes as soon as the water the larvae is in becomes warm again.

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Mosquitoes are very resilient insects. The mosquitoes that can tolerate living through the winter months are the females, they hide in protected places carrying with them the results of the fall breeding after which the male dies.These eggs will not begin development until the female mosquito obtains her first blood meal in the spring.

It is best to go ahead and get your lawn and garden area mosquito proof now by cleaning up debris, brush and standing water. Chances are you already out there beautifying the area with flowers and shrubs anyway. Contact a licensed professional for other helpful hints and precautions you can take to prevent mosquito bites all season long.

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