The field of Entomology
(the study of insects) has been absolutely fascinating to me since I obtained my degree in Entomology at Texas A&M and moved to S.E. Texas in 1957. The evolvement of several invasive species of insects, the horrible impact of hurricanes, the ebb and flow of droughts and floods, the seasonal impact of weather, the removal of availability of many pesticides all have kept me and my 50 plus staffers interestingly busy in keeping up with PEST TRENDS. Here are the top five “TRENDS” in recent years:
In recent years this blood-sucking insect has approached epidemic proportions worldwide. Data out of New York City reflects that one in every fifteen homes and/or businesses have bed bugs. I actually saw my first infestation of bed bugs in a downtown Beaumont Hotel in 1958. But they were rare up until say the past ten years. As the saying goes, “back in the old days” the pesticides we had and the techniques of application pretty well kept the bed bug population at a very low level. But they survived and developed resistance to many pesticides. Their resurgence in recent years has been such they now may be found most anywhere – hotels, nursing homes, apartments, hospitals, waiting rooms, and yes, even in homes. Many studies have been done as to why the resurgence with no simple answers. Having bed bugs is very shocking to anyone. Their sucking your blood while you sleep is a horrible thought.
We have been challenged to inspect, find, identify, and control them. So much so we have evolved highly trained specialists to handle this part of our pest control business. It’s working quite well! Yes, we have ‘em here – more than you can imagine. It’s just one of those very private matters people don’t talk about.
Rasberry Crazy Ants
This brand-new invasive species was first discovered in Houston in 2002 by our industry friend Tom Rasberry (yes, they were officially named after him). Nobody is sure but they probably came from the Carribean or South America. We first found them in our area in 2008 and now have found them in four area counties. They don’t sting or bite but their massive populations into the millions overwhelms everything. With these numbers they literally sterilize the earth wherever they go – insects (yes, even fire ants), bird nests – whatever. They destroy your usage of your yard – even invade homes and businesses. Some schools have been inundated with them. In Houston, they have shut down refineries. They don’t fly but spread on foot like wildfire. They hitch rides on dumpsters, cross ties, pallets, potted plants from nurseries, etc. We know of one case where they were introduced via new school buses delivered to a school district.
They are not your conventional ant and do-it-yourself materials don’t work. Indeed, our own conventional ant control techniques failed and we have had to join hands with Texas A&M researchers to develop effective control technologies – and they keep coming. You will be hearing lots more about them.
As with bed bugs we have chosen to develop highly skilled specialists to effectively deal with them. Though challenging, we do have programs that work.
Africanized “Killer” Honey Bees
In the 1990’s they came into Texas from Mexico. With their frequent “swarming” flights and their ability to hitch rides in equipment and vehicles, they now stretch from coast to coast across the southern U.S. Fear factors per media hype had everybody on edge about them. Indeed, they are very dangerous per their attack mode in mass. Many humans have been killed along with pets and livestock. They attack without warning and any colony in close proximity to man is a grave danger. Problem is, you may not even know they exist on your property until you are attacked.
But, Mother Nature has stepped in. They are crossing with our more docile native honeybees. “Roll-of-the-dice” genetics has kicked in with some colonies having characteristics of the native bees and some the Africanized strain. But you can’t tell them apart by looking. When we are compelled to deal with any honeybee colonies, we choose to wear protective bee suits. Per all the many benefits of honeybees, we strongly advocate leaving them be unless their presence is an imminent danger.
I reckon they are older than dirt! Grin and bear them has gone on for generations. But three things have happened in this area in recent years that have changed “attitudes” about mosquitoes. One was the introduction of the Asian Tiger Mosquito into the Houston area via an incoming shipment of tires in the 1990’s. They quickly spread to our area. Their massive numbers and their 24-7 vicious attack mode disrupts outside activities. The second thing that happened regarding mosquitoes was the introduction of the West Nile Virus disease. The first occurrences were in the North East states in the 1990’s. Probably via migratory birds that carry the disease organism, we began to have outbreaks of the West Nile Virus in our area about ten years ago. Too, various species of mosquitoes also transmit other diseases. So, all together there was a heightened awareness and concern about mosquitoes. Fortunately in Jefferson and Orange counties we have effective mosquito abatement districts. But, for the most part these services are confined to public properties leaving private properties with little or no benefits. The third factor is that hurricanes and floods in recent years have profoundly changed habitats of mosquitoes – mosquitoes have benefited.
So, we at Bill Clark Pest Control got busy to develop programs for private properties: Mosquito fogging services for refineries and large commercial properties; Automated Mosquito Mister systems for home yards and small commercial yards; and Mosquito Spraying Services in yards as an alternative. Yes, we have adapted to deal with changing TRENDS on mosquitoes.
In the recent ten or fifteen years this whole region of S.E. Texas has had an explosion of these horrid termites. Though they have been around since the 1950’s, the “explosion” began in the 1990’s. In fact, I personally found and identified them in 1962 in the South Park section of Beaumont. This was one of the first discoveries in Texas Their massive numbers and their voracious appetites pales our native termite. Fifteen years ago the available termiticides were essentially ineffective against them. Our concerns were so great we considered ceasing offering termite control services. Fortunately research developed some new chemistries that now allows us to effectively control and prevent both the native and Formosan species.