Posts Tagged outdoor 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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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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The guinea-fowl is pecking away at tick-borne illness

Dread_versions7

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad-kills mosquitoes and ticks dead!

You could say chickens are beneficial, after all they are a double commodity producing eggs for us as well as providing us with those chicken wings we so dearly love. Turkeys too, many can argue are a regal bird aiding in bringing families together and giving thanks on that one special day of the year. However, I  have found a “fowl” that is definitely not “foul” in its eating habits. This little creature kills snakes and eradicates all sorts of harmful insects that invade our gardens each year, but the grande finale  is that it eats ticks.

The guinea-fowl ( Numida meleagris)  eats the disease-carrying tick as part of their natural diets. They feast on other insects as well and can often be seen darting quickly across a yard on the heels of an insect such as a japanese beetle, a grasshopper or even a mosquito.

The tick eating Guinea-fowl

The tick eating Guinea-fowl

These little polka-dotted birds can be found in many barnyards and farms across North America. Some are  kept as sentinels or “watch birds” that alert you with their memorable “chi-chi-chi” noise when a stranger approaches or a predator threatens the flock. Other guinea-fowl are also kept as pets, with their comical chattering slumber parties lasting well into the night, especially under the full moon. Some doll makers and other artisans actually keep them around to collect their shed feathers which are coveted in doll making and other crafts.

Guinea-fowl eat insects that can harm your garden as well

Guinea-fowl eat insects that can harm your garden as well

I write this story from experience. My childhood was spent listening to the soothing song of the guinea fowl from a huge old oak that sat on the back of our property. My family raised and showed Tennessee Walking horses and I guess, nowadays, you could say I grew up on what some would call a “farm”. All sorts of critters drifted in and out of my life, including the guineas that we ordered as eggs, hatched in an incubator, and raised to adulthood and released onto our property. I can’t remember many mosquito OR tick encounters as a child. I also remember my mother’s garden bore fine delectable specimens of every vegetable we sowed.  My mother’s prized flowers always had huge, bug free blooms each spring as well. I guess I was de-sensitized to the many beneficial habits  of the guinea-fowl because they had become part of our family.

Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

I realize that many of us do not have the acreage to go out and get a guinea or two. It is enlightening to know that there are animals who actually eat ticks as part of their diets. Folks with small farms or a little patch of land with minimal restrictions may have the perfect scenario to put these little birds to use. For the rest of us, Mosquito Squad has the answer to your tick and mosquito woes. We offer season long prevention with a no worry program tailor-made just for you. Contact Mosquito Squad today to find out more. 877-667-7823 http://www.mosquitosquad.com/

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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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Dread says hello to Spring

Hey there little boys and girls. I’m Dread Skeeter and I am excited about all the fun things that Spring brings. All the beautiful flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing. The warm weather and beautiful skies are great for an afternoon playing at the park with your buddies, or maybe even flying a kite. Everywhere you look Spring brings us a new outdoor adventure. Who doesn’t like to have a cookout with hot dogs and hamburgers and a game of hide and seek?

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Remember kids, the mosquitoes like the warm spring weather just as much as you do. Make sure your parents keep you safe and bite free this season by making sure you play it safe when it comes to mosquitoes. Make sure to wear the right kind of clothes for your outdoor fun and ask Mom and Dad give Mosquito Squad a call to help them keep you skeeter free this Spring..

Ask your Parents to go to http://www.mosquitosquad.com/AboutUs.html and print off our cool Dread Skeeter coloring pages to color. Once you play it safe and you’re mosquito free you can do like Dread Skeeter and tell those mosquitoes….”bite me”.

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Are You a Mosquito Magnet?

Have you ever been at a barbeque or some outdoor party and gotten a ton of mosquito bites-and your friend only got a few? I know I have.

My mom used to tell me that bugs are attracted to me because I’m “especially sweet.” Yeah…thanks.

This article I found on Web MD showed that mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people for scientific reasons. Since the top reason was genetics, I guess I can thank my mom for being so sweet.

Check out the article to find other reasons you might be a “mosquito magnet.”

The article also mentions that, while some locations may have more mosquitoes than others, no area is truly immune. If  you are “especially sweet,” like me, then you  might want to try out Mosquito Squad. It’s a great alternative to using a personal repellant and will protect you and everyone on your property from those blood suckers.

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No Land Is Safe!

Nobody in their right mind will tell you that they enjoy being pestered by mosquitoes. I cannot stand them, and personally the more I learn about this evil little bugger, the more I detest them! I plan to bring you interesting yet disturbing facts throughout the week to help grow your animosity for these pests as well.

This is why I am packing my bags and moving to the sub zero climates of Antarctica where I can live mosquito free… or better yet I will buy a chain saw this weekend and clear every tree and bit of brush within a mile radius of my home… this way I can eliminate the places mosquitoes live… although the neighbors might not be so happy with that idea either!

 Ok so maybe I am overreacting a bit.  I wish there was an easy affordable solution to my dilemma. Oh wait there is! An eco friendly barrier spray from Mosquito Squad would do the trick!

 There are few places across the globe that offers the luxury of living separate from mosquitoes. This is why a smarter alternative to joining me on my move to Eskimo territory, is a barrier spray which can save you the hassle and send the skeeters packing their bags instead.

NASA Mosquito Map

“This map shows mosquito habitat distribution for one of four common mosquito species in the US. The red/black areas are results of satellite data analysis showing where particular species of mosquitoes can be found. The yellow lines are the ‘published’ boundaries for where these species can be found. There is a strong correlation between the two. These images were created in support of a story describing how NASA is assisting the CDC and EPA in tracking the spread of West Nile Virus.”

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