When I think back to my childhood and all the creepy fairy tales I was told growing up, one tale stands out in my mind: The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Rats and mice have always been a nuisance throughout history and our pest control technicians today carry on a vocation that dates back before the origins of the famous pipe-toting rat catcher. However, rodents played an even more sinister role in the Middle Ages than they do today – helping spread the plague known as “The Black Death” which is said to have killed one-third of Europe’s population from 1340-1400.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of the Pied Piper, the tale unfolds like this: The medieval city of Hamelin, Germany is overwrought with rodents. One day, a mysterious man appears in a coat of many colors (pied means having 2 or more colors) claiming to be a ratcatcher of great repute. The city of Hamelin agree to hire the fancy-coated pest expert for a specified price. The Pied Piper begins to play his instrument and subsequently leads all the mice and rats out of the city. After the city was freed of the rats, the citizens refuse to pay the Pied Piper his expensive fee. Angry and bitter over the city’s reluctance to pay up, the Pied Piper returns one night and leads 130 of the town’s children away with his pipe, never to return again. Needless to say, this story is absolutely terrifying to children and grown men like myself. Read More
The Brown Tree Snake Photo Credit: Mark Kempen
In February 2013, the U.S. government approved $8 million in funding for a program in Guam to use dead mice packed full of painkillers to combat a widespread infestation of brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis). Arriving in Guam just after World War II, the brown tree snake found the island to be perfect hunting environment preying on many exotic birds and other vertebrates. The snake population has grown to unprecedented numbers and cause an average of 80 power failures a year (resulting in an estimated loss of $4 million annually). Additionally, there are numerous reports of the snakes attacking people.
After years of failed control tactics, the tree snake’s 2 weaknesses were identified: mice and Tylenol. The rear-fanged snake can be killed after consuming a relatively small amount of Tylenol and mice are one of their favorite meals. Flying at low altitude at slow speeds, the acetaminophen-laced dead mice are parachuted down from helicopters into the forest canopy where the snakes can take the bait. Read More
Presto-X Pest Control Technician, Edwin Ortega
Homeowners and businesses face problems with pests on a daily basis throughout North America and beyond. When these problems arise, customers want their issues resolved efficiently and quickly. However, it is easy to forget that with every pest problem that is remedied, there is a human being responsible for solving that issue. To gain a better perspective of the daily life of a pest control professional, the deBugged blog sat down with Chicago-based Presto-X Pest Control technician, Edwin Ortega, for a question-and-answer session.
deBugged: Edwin, how did you become a pest control technician at Presto-X?
Edwin: I worked for a different pest control company previously and I realized that Presto-X was much closer to my home so I applied for a position. I live in Chicago and their office was right down the street from me. I knew it was a great company from the get-go. When I met my managers, Don and Mona, I felt that they were very easy people to communicate with.
Before I began my career as a pest control technician, I worked for an airline company. Initially, I started in pest control as a part-time, seasonal employee but quickly realized the career potential in the industry. There was so much to learn and lot of opportunity. Read More
Photo Credit: Gotzek D, Brady SG, Kallal RJ, LaPolla JS
A new invasive ant species has invaded America. Nylanderia fulva, also known as the Tawny Crazy Ant has terrorized southwestern Texas as well as other Gulf Coast states due to their warm and humid environments.
The Tawny Crazy ant was first discovered in a Miami hospital 23 years ago. Since then, the reddish-brown ant has moved, primarily by human commerce, to 20 Florida counties, 24 Texas counties, and several counties in Louisiana and Mississippi. They were mistakenly thought to be– for over 2 decades– Nylanderia pubens, a Caribbean species that was first found in Florida in 1953. But in 2002, the Tawny Crazy ant was first spotted in Pasadena, Texas by a pest management professional. Read More
Photo Credit: CharlesLam
While in recent years the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has dominated pest headlines in the United States, a new kind of stink bug is emerging as a threat to homeowners and farmers. The kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria), native to Asia, has spread aggressively in the southeastern United States since being discovered just outside Atlanta four years ago. Named for their fondness for feeding on the kudzu plant, the bugs in appearance look more similar to a beetle but are actually members of the Pentatomoidea superfamily which contains stink bugs.
While kudzu bugs do not spread disease (like other insects such as mosquitoes and ticks), the plump pests have been causing worry for soybean farmers. Kudzu bugs target soybean fields where they can seriously impact crop yields. Scientists are hard at work studying the kudzu as soybeans are the United States’ second-largest cash crop. A recent study that consisted of 19 trials in the southeast found that kudzu bug-infested soybean crops that were unprotected yielded an average loss of 18%. Read More