Posts Tagged outdoor activities

Spend the Rest of Summer Outside

Summer is quickly coming to a close, sending kids back school. Take advantage of the nice weather and energetic kids these last few weeks and play outside in the yard. Here are some great game and crafts ideas if you aren’t sure what to do:

  • Yard Bowling. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Grab some old milk cartons or other plastic bottles and set them up at the end of the yard. Have the kids roll a ball (any bouncy ball or soccer ball will do) from 30 feet away and see how it goes. Keep score just like you would with regular bowling.
  • Red Light, Green Light. An oldie but a goodie, Red Light, Green Light is sure to have your kids tired when they’re done. Choose one person to be the traffic light and have them stand at the opposite side of the yard as the other players. The traffic light says “green light” and turns its back on the other players, allowing the players to run towards them. Periodically the traffic light turns abruptly yelling “red light” indicating the runners need to freeze. If the traffic light sees any of them moving, they have to go back to the start point. The first runner to touch the traffic light wins and is the traffic light for the next round.
  • ladderball

    Here is a ladder ball set from Target. Click if you are interested

    Ladder Ball. This requires a ladder ball set, but it’s fun for all ages. A ladder ball set includes two small three run “ladders” and two sets of bolos as seen in this image to the right. This game is for two teams of two. Teams split up with one member standing at each ladder. The players throw the bolos to get them to catch on the ladder rungs. Each run is worth a number of points (1 point for the lowest, 2 for the middle and 3 for the highest). The first team to 21 (win by two) wins.

  • Paint! Kids love to paint, but sometimes it’s a little too messy for the inside of your home. Think about some fun things to paint that you could use. Buy some cheap flower pots from your local home improvement store and allow your kids to paint it however they want. Then have them plant something in it! It will be beautiful in more ways than one.
  • Pinterest is a great place to find outdoor crafts for kids. Here are a bunch of ideas from Parent Map.

As always, make sure to keep your kids happy and safe when spending time outdoors. Sunscreen and hydration is a must. Dread Skeeter can help protect them from unwanted mosquitoes and ticks as well so they don’t want to go inside away from the annoying pests. To learn about our effective mosquito control, contact your local Mosquito Squad.

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The vicious cycle of West Nile Virus from the beginning to the end

Dread_versions2

Mosquito Squad wants you to learn the facts about West Nile Virus."

As many of you already know West Nile Virus is a virus spread to humans and animals through the bite of a mosquito that has become infected with the virus through feeding off an infected bird.  The question is how does the infected bird become infected with West Nile in the first place?

The cycle of West Nile begins with a mosquito which transmits  the virus to a bird by way of the mosquito feeding from the bird, once the bird has become infected it serves as an amplifying host by developing levels of the virus that are sufficient enough to promote infection to other biting mosquitoes and thus pass it on to us  and other birds and animals through the bite of the infected mosquito that fed from the bird, which was already initially infected by a mosquito to begin with. Although quite confusing, the cycle is also complex, naming the mosquito the guilty party where all aspects of infection from West Nile are concerned. This vicious cycle carries out over and over again and amplifies the disease in birds. The disease was first identified in Uganda in  1937 and  since then has been commonly identified in the Middle eastern regions of the world, Africa and Western Asia. The virus had not been identified in the U.S. until an outbreak in New York in September, 1999. Since the New York outbreak more than 30,000 people have been reported with the virus and out of those 1,200 have perished from the virus. As of 2011 46 states have reported outbreaks of West Nile.

Blue Jays and crows are more likely to die from West Nile Virus than other birds.

Blue Jays and crows are more likely to die from West Nile Virus than other birds.

Many types of birds are likely to be infected with the West Nile Virus, but studies have shown that crows and blue jays are more likely to perish from the infection. In the 1999 New York area West Nile epidemic there was a huge die off of crows from the disease. Since this occurrence more than 200 species of birds found dead in the United States have tested positive for the virus. There is a detailed species list available through the CDC website that identifies the infected birds mortality rate from 1999 to present. You may visit here to view the list  http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/birdspecies.htm The identification of these species were reported thanks to the help of the public reporting cases of dead birds to their state and local health departments whom is responsible for collection and testing of dead birds all across the US.

Mosquito

The root of the West Nile epidemic lies in the mosquito.

Birds serve as vectors, or intermediate carriers for the disease from the minute the infected mosquito bites them. In many cases sick birds won’t show any sign of the virus and in other cases birds can just fall out of the sky dead from the virus. When a human becomes infected with the virus it can take on three forms, one of which is an asymptomatic  infection, the second is West Nile fever which is a mild febrile syndrome and the third is the most severe form of the virus which is called West Nile meningitis and West Nile encephalitis. Meningitis and encephalitis are neuroinvasive disorders which causes acute swelling of the membrane and lining of the brain and the brain itself.

Since there is no immunization for protecting us from West Nile the best way to lessen the chances of becoming infected with the virus is to minimize the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Taking control of your property is key to controlling mosquito populations.

Here are some helpful hints to keep mosquitoes away…

  • Keep your property mowed and free of debris and brush piles.
  • Keep your bushes and plantings trimmed, tidy and avoid letting them get overgrown
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are free of debris that might cause moisture to collect
  • Tip, toss out and turn over outdoor items that are not in use or those that may serve as reservoirs for moisture
  • Check screened areas for rips or tears frequently and repair immediately to avoid mosquitoes from entering your home
  • Frequently dump and refill bird baths or other areas where water can stand and serve as a place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs
  • Have you property treated by a licensed professionall to kill and control mosquitoes
Mosquito_Squad_spraying_your_yard

Mosquito Squad can help you take control of your property and keep it mosquito free.

Mosquito Squad is dedicated to keeping you and your family safe from mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus. Our safe and effective barrier spray , as well as out mosquito misting systems offer you outstanding mosquito control. Contact us today to learn more at 877-667-7823

804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

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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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Is there trouble brewing in that mud puddle?

An underwater army of Culex larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

An underwater army of Culex mosquito larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mosquitoes cannot exist without water, and I don’t mean just to serve as to keep them hydrated. Female mosquitoes need water in order to lay their eggs and carry on the cycle of life, and thus preserve the nature of the mosquito species itself. Many folks think that it takes a large amount of water for mosquitoes to lay eggs in. This is a common misconception. The truth is it takes very little water at all for a female mosquito to lay hundreds and even thousands of eggs to nurture her blood-thirsty offspring.

Many sources of water that are commonplace in any yard, on any street and around every house and business can be a source for concern. Mosquitoes are known vectors of illnesses and diseases such as West Nile Virus, Malaria, Meningitis and Encephalitis just to name a few, therefore citizens should become educated in the manner and locations that could potentially serve as a Petri dish for disease.

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free.

Storm drains, road ditches, flower pots, mud puddles, discarded soda bottles, children’s outdoor toys and even crevices in trees that can hold water make perfect nurseries for Mrs. Mosquito to carry on her legacy of irritation, pain and disease. All around the US, record rainfalls  this season have produced swollen rivers, lakes and creeks that can boost the population of mosquitoes across the country. There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes around the world all looking for a place to carry on the family name, so here are some ways to reduce the chances of making your property attractive to expectant female mosquitoes.

  • Inspect the areas around your home and property often and discard any items that are collecting moisture
  • Tip, toss, turn over and throw out any items not in use or that serve no purpose other than as water reservoirs
  • Make sure to keep your property trimmed of overgrowth and free of debris
  • Keep gutters and storm drains free of brush and debris that can cause water to accumulate
  • Empty and change water in bird baths and wading pools at least once per week
  • Inspect screens on windows and doors to make certain mosquitoes don’t find their way indoors
  • Have your property treated by a licensed professional
Mosquito life cycle, courtesy of Leon County Mosquito Control, Tallahassee, Florida.

Mosquito life cycle, courtesy of Leon County Mosquito Control, Tallahassee, Florida. ( Notice the blue area that shows the importance of water on the mosquitoes life cycle)

These simple safeguards can keep your and your family safe from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. Mosquito Squad is waging war on these pests with our mosquito control and prevention programs . Our safe and effective barrier spray is highly beneficial as part of keeping mosquitoes off your property.  Our  Barrier sprays are applied at regularly scheduled intervals during the season to keep you mosquito free all season long. We also offer an automatic mosquito misting system that disperses a spray at timed intervals throughout the entire day.

Even though mosquitoes have been around for over 170 million years, Mosquito Squad can help you take control of your property to keep you and your family safe and mosquito-free. Contact us today to learn more

804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

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This silent predator is the world’s deadliest. Mosquitoes?

angry-bear

The mosquito is deadlier than a bear believe it or not.

We have witnessed bear attacks and lion attacks on the TV. The new millennium promises a reality show at every click of the remote. From hunters being chased by bears to gazelle falling prey to lions in Africa, it is all laid out for the whole world to see. Now, how would you feel if I told you the deadliest predator on earth doesn’t roar, or growl? In fact you won’t even feel it attack you until after the damage is already done. The deadliest predator on earth, my dear friends, is the mosquito. The mosquito is responsible for more deaths worldwide than wild animal attacks. The mosquito is the silent predator who strikes and leaves disease in its wake. For this reason alone the mosquito should make us all fearful for it gives no warning of it’s oncoming bite.

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito and tick free.

Haven’t you ever wondered why most times you don’t see the mosquito that left that red, itchy welt on your leg? The mosquito has the uncanny ability to bite without you knowing it is happening unless you just happen to look down and catch the act in progress. Mosquitoes actually inject a numbing agent which their bodies produce, into us as they feed from us. Many insects in nature inject a similar numbing agent while they feed, such as the bed bug. This numbing agent enables the mosquito to take their fill in a discreet way. The area that the mosquito has fed from will become itchy only after the mosquito has fed. This itching and swelling is our own bodies reaction to the anticoagulants which are also present in the mosquitoes saliva. These anticoagulants are responsible for allowing the mosquito to feed from us liberally without the complication of our blood becoming clotted during feeding. While the mosquito feeds, the blood she is taking from us fills her abdomen where a sensory nerve within her abdomen will alert her that she is full. If you were to somehow cut or disable the nerve within the mosquitoes abdomen she would actually feed off of us until she exploded!

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

The deadliest predator on earth the mosquito.

The science of the mosquito is dangerous because with other dangerous predators you can run when you see or hear their approach, no such warning is present with the mosquito. Our only defense is to prevent them from getting to you and your family. Blood is crucial to the life cycle of the mosquito, without it the female cannot lay her eggs.

Mosquito_Squad_spraying_your_yard

Mosquito Squad spraying your yard to guard against mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile.

There are many ways to prevent and avoid mosquitoes on your property. Keeping brush and debris cleaned up, lawn mowed and gutters cleaned is a good beginning. You also need to regularly inspect your property and around your home to make sure there are no containers or crevices where moisture can accumulate. Keep in mind any area as small as a soda pop bottle top can become a nursery to over 300 mosquito eggs. Tip, toss, turn over and throw away all things that can retain any amounts of moisture. Check any screened areas around or within the home for tears and holes where mosquitoes could move in on you and your family. Have your property professionally treated by a licensed technician to kill and deter mosquitoes on your property, and above all, exercise common sense and think from the mosquitoes point of view.

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Mosquito Squad has many weapons to kill and prevent mosquitoes from entering your property. We offer an automatic mosquito misting system that releases our safe and effective mosquito control spray in timed intervals throughout the day. We also offer a season-long alternative to mosquito control that uses our safe and effective barrier sprays that are sprayed at scheduled intervals throughout the mosquito season. All Mosquito Squad products are approved by the EPA and deemed safe. We offer worry free, hassle free mosquito control that ends the reign of the silent predator in your yard.

Contact Mosquito Squad today to learn more 804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

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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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