Category Archives: Public health

Getting the Bugs Out: Bed Bug Training 2020

IPM Experience House: Getting the Bugs Out: Bed Bug Training 2020 is here to help you understand this old but new foe the “Bed Bug.” Long-time bed bug specialist for ABC Home and Commercial Services, Alan Brown, Staff Entomologist/ Department Manager will be providing his insights into best practices for bed bug control. In  addition to classroom training on the finer points of the “modern bed bug,” the class will get hands on experience with inspecting, treating using heat and other methods and developing practical and effective follow-up… Read More →

Giant hornets genuinely frightening

The Asian giant hornet has recently been spotted close to the Canadian border in Washington state. Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Agriculture.   Last year’s quiet arrival of a foreign wasp known as the Asian giant hornet is no longer a secret outside of Washington state.  Within the past few days, all the major TV networks have broadcast stories of the arrival of the wasp to the Pacific Northwest.  Known to entomologists as Vespa mandarinia, it has been named by the press the ‘murder hornet’. It’s hard… Read More →

Disinfectants are pesticides–so use safely!

What do “pest control” and public health campaigns against SARS Cov-2 have in common?  Both activities use pesticides.  In the eyes of the law, sanitizer and disinfectant products are considered pesticides.  And if you’re a little wary of using pesticides, you should exercise the same caution when choosing and using a disinfectant. Let’s start with some basics. The term ‘pesticide’ refers to any substance or mixture of substances used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate a pest.  All pesticides are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),… Read More →

Where has West Nile virus gone?

If it seems you’re hearing less about West Nile virus (WNV) this summer, you are not imagining it.  Although mosquitoes have been abundant this year, for some reason the virus has remained relatively quiet in 2019. Where has WNV gone? A paper written by epidemiologist Dr. Wendy Chung and colleagues in 2013 may offer some insights on the absence of the virus this summer. Those of us who lived in Dallas in 2012 may remember that summer as the worst human outbreak of WNV ever.  Nearly 400 cases were… Read More →

Sunshine and wildflowers–its mosquito time again

Two weekends ago my wife and I went for a long bike ride. It was one of those rare, completely beautiful spring days, cool air and wildflowers lining the roads.  I knew it was going to be a long ride, and I knew the Texas sun was shining; but somehow the need for sunscreen never entered my mind (my wife had the good sense to lather up). It was a wonderful ride; but I’m still paying the price today, with the skin on my arms peeling like an… Read More →

Chigger season

If my phone calls are any indication, this appears to be a whopping chigger season.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  You should count your blessings. Chiggers are my personal worst nightmare. They are tiny mites, barely visible to the eye, that live on the soil surface and, in their larval stage, are parasites on humans and other vertebrate animals. Chigger bites itch terribly for 1-2 days, then slowly shrink to mildly itchy red marks that take 1 or 2 weeks to disappear. The only good thing I… Read More →

And now it’s mosquitoes

Hurricane Harvey continues to leave its mark on Texas. Besides the giant cleanup, hoards of mosquitoes are now descending in many areas. The pictures are impressive. Just a couple of examples are enough to make the point. The young man in the picture here was fortunate to have chosen a sturdy shirt before venturing out last weekend. The mosquitoes in this picture are probably in the genus Psorophora, (sore ROFF oh ruh) one of our largest, most painful and aggressive biters.  Psorophora mosquitoes have some impressive chops when it comes… Read More →

Fire ants make water rescue… interesting

What’s reddish-brown, rides the water like an air mattress, changes shape like an amoeba, and stings like the devil?  If you answered fire ants floating in floodwater, you’ve probably been in Texas high water before. Floods bring all sorts of wildlife into close and sometimes uncomfortable contact with people, but none perhaps so uncomfortable as fire ants. When their mounds are flooded, fires ants survive by riding air bubbles to the surface, joining feet (tarsi) with nest mates, and floating.  The ingenious behavior that allows ants to float… Read More →

A chance to fight malaria

How would you like to save a life today? It’s not as hard as you might think. In the years since Bill Gates retired his position as CEO of MicroSoft Corporation, he and his wife Melinda have devoted tremendous effort to battling malaria.  Malaria and the mosquitoes that transmit it is the single greatest killer of humans in the world, accounting for most of the 700,000+ mosquito-caused deaths annually.  But unlike many of the other major problems in the world, solutions to the malaria epidemic are available now…. Read More →

Ticks and summertime

Everyone who agrees with this statement, raise your hands. “The world would be a better place without ticks!” Ha, just as I suspected! Everyone who has ever “gotten a tick” raised their hands. Everyone else has a blank look on their face. For the uninitiated, ticks are eight-legged arachnids more closely related to spiders than insects. While all tick species feed on blood, some feed on wild animals and rarely bite people.  Other ticks readily hitch rides on, and bite humans.  Ticks are most commonly encountered in fields or… Read More →