Pest Control - Elite Pest Control Ltd

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Pest Control

The hunter paid to shoot possums in the centre of a New Zealand city

Dawn Hendrikse is a possum hunter with a difference. Her hunting ground is not the far-flung bush of the West Coast or the ancient forests of the North Island. Instead, she carefully tracks and shoots possums less than a kilometer from Cathedral Square in the center of Christchurch. For two decades, she has stalked her prey in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, just meters from the city’s hospital and the Canterbury Museum. Her company, Elite Pest Control, is contracted by Christchurch City Council to patrol the ornamental gardens at night about twice a month and shoot any possums she can find. Read the full story – from stuff.co.nz

The Changing Landscape of Urban Pest Management

Article by Dawn Hendrikse Executive Assistant to the Managing Director, Elite Pest Control Limited For those of us in the field practicing Urban Pest Management daily, it is about peace of mind, protecting assets, and reducing fear and anxiety. The fear factor is what motivates our clients to call us. Most of our revenue comes from summer pest activity and it is a challenge keeping up. We look forward to the Christmas and New Year break. We eagerly await the winter season and gear up to monitor and control rodent populations in urban/residential environments. During my preparation for University this year, I discovered some research on Urban Pest Management. “Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection”. The research basically formalises the information we have been collecting in our service reports for the last two decades. Miller, K.F.; Wilson, D.J.; Hartley, S.; Innes, J.G.; Fitzgerald, N.B.; Miller, P.; van Heezik, Y. Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection. Biology 2022,11,1527. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/biology11101527 The study focused on three rodent species, brush-tail possums, and European hedgehogs. As rodent detections were lowest in residential gardens, it suggested control programs should focus mostly on forest and amenity park habitats. That was ‘interesting’ because we installed over 500 rodent management programs into residential properties between 1 April and 31 August 2022. The primary motivation for the research was “ecological restoration that enhances the benefits backyard gardens have to city-wide biodiversity and public health”   This is a new concept for Urban Pest Managers in New Zealand and hopefully one we learn more about and adopt. Thanks to the Predator-Free 2050 initiative, large sums of money are being invested into smart predator control ideas, technology research and innovative non toxic methodology and techniques. Predator-Free is designed to eradicate pest species in New Zealand on a large scale. The new techniques focus on nontoxic pest management and artificial intelligence, thermal and trail camera monitoring and expensive but efficient wireless alert systems. The new technology takes the labour out of predator projects which saves thousands of dollars. This research and technology development can be useful against the Urban Predator Invasion. While one residential home isn’t much, 2500 residential homes equates to a large area. This technology can help our fight. Our Urban Pest Management Industry has a unique opportunity to learn about new ‘whys’ and new ‘hows’ and it is exciting to be entering University with this in mind. It is also a little concerning. As a spin-off from Predator Free 2050, the Government created the Jobs for Nature Fund in 2020 in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The intention is to tackle pandemic-driven regional unemployment and the declining health of New Zealand’s waterways and landscapes. The following press release is one example of how this funding is being used: Ōtautahi and Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Pest Control Christchurch City Council will receive $1.575 million for animal pest and weed control work in parks, mahinga kai sites, and wetlands across Otautahi/Christchurch, Te Pataka o Rakaihautu/Banks Peninsula and the Port Hills.  The project will employ 10 people for three years. The Council intends to bring unemployed people into the workforce and offer placements for those interested in getting experience and skills in pest control. Training will be provided to set them up for a career in conservation A significant portion of our revenue comes from rodent management in the residential, parks and reserves environment. Possum management is consistently growing in our urban market and we had a significant increase of mustelid inquiries from Canterbury residents in 2022. “The conclusion of the study encourages 1. the need for widespread and coordinated control operations to support initiatives aimed at restoring native biodiversity and 2. the presence of predators requires the engagement of residents so that these (urban) habitats do not support populations acting as sources of re-invasion into other green spaces” Will our Urban Pest Management Industry be part of the coordinated operation? We hope so! Our industry has spent years developing solutions that deliver the highest quality results in the most humane way possible. It has collectively built up a strong rapport with the residential market who trust our recommendations and advice. We have developed monitoring programs into our services so we can control invasions in real time and encourage annual inspections of current programs to ensure they are performing and delivering expected results. The concept of human well being, saving ecological biodiversity and contributing to urban restoration projects can become a priority during our day to day field work. This alternative motivation will encourage us to expand on our knowledge and help us take action. Our industry is in a prime position to deliver this research to the people that matter. To those that can contribute towards best results in our urban environment. The local community is desperate to be part of the fight to restore nature, to be trained and taught the most effective solutions to save our unique biodiversity. #epickiwi #pestcontrolprofessionals #gardencity If you liked this article the credit goes to the following people and institutions carrying out this fantastic research – share it to your networks so our colleagues get a chance to read and share their own opinions and experiences: Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection Kim F. Miller 1 , Deborah J. Wilson 2 , Stephen Hartley 3 , John G. Innes 4, Neil B. Fitzgerald 4 , Poppy Miller 5 and Yolanda van Heezik 1,* 1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand 2. Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand 3. Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand 4. Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand 5. Plant & Food Research, 23 Batchelar Road, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand * Correspondence: yolanda.vanheezik@otago.ac.nz

Urban Wasp Management

Dawn Hendrikse Executive Assistant to the Managing Director, Elite Pest Control Limited Last wasp season we treated 1500 wasp nests covering the entire Canterbury Area.  We made a total of 125 house and work site visits to assess for wasp activity, installed wasp traps, saved 35 bumble bee nests, and helped rescue 15 honey bee swarms. For two decades we have been managing Urban Wasps and developing our systems to; -reduce unnecessary call outs -expand our knowledge and understanding of Urban Wasp Management -refine our service to keep clients happy and returning -make genuine connections with our urban community -reduce pesticide use in our urban environment We put together a simple set of questions, processes and products, decided on a reasonable charge and then we guaranteed the results. Our wasp service is made up of two parts, 1.the assessment and 2.the treatment, we charge for both – we don’t do free assessments. The Questions: listen carefully, try not to interrupt, don’t be in a hurry – build a genuine connection Where are you seeing the activity? This is a great opening question – of the 100 wasp jobs we successfully treated in January, 22 were located in the roof area ie; soffits, under the guttering, on top of bay windows and under corrugated roof iron. 13 were located in subfloor vents and 8 were in the ground under agapanthus. Are wasps consistently coming and going from one spot? This is a very important question -If activity is not consistently coming and going from one spot then it isn’t a nest. Underground nests are harder to find because people don’t want to get too close, they’re often obscured by thick foliage, or not active enough. We look for an entrance the size of a fifty cent coin or bigger and we are careful not to disturb the foliage around the entrance to the nest. Has anyone been stung or tried to treat the nest? A disturbed nest is a major hazard and it’s important we know the nests’ condition so we can prepare the Pest Manager. This is also a great time to find out if anyone has covered the entrance to the nest with soil, a box, or petrol soaked rags before calling our office. The Pest Manager is well prepared and has a protective suit in the van if needed. What do they look like? Most customers know what a wasp looks like but if someone says the wasps look large, black and fluffy then we are not dealing with a wasp nest. If they say the wasps are swarming, these are not wasps either. If customers are not sure and don’t want to get too close, we assume we are dealing with wasps but recommend an assessment. Do you have any Pets? We recommend pets stay inside until the nest is no longer active. The same goes for children – and wear shoes or sandals around the nest site. Setting the right expectation before the booking is confirmed and making sure the customer understands their obligations is an important part of our service. We guarantee results within 24 hours and if activity is still present we will make a follow up visit for no extra cost. We give certainty about the wasp control service we provide and what they’re paying for. Customers need to know what to expect after a treatment and how they can follow up with us if the treatment doesn’t work the first time. We aren’t shy about the service or the charges – and we charge well for the service. We don’t do free assessments. If the customer insists we visit . . . we will do a thorough assessment/survey on the property and if there is no nest, we charge an assessment/call out fee. If we arrive and the wasp nest is obvious, we charge the minimum treatment fee. Service charges are clarified before the booking is confirmed and followed up with an email notification. Introduced wasps are a significant pest which harm our native birds, lizards and insects. They are a threat to human health, tourism and recreation. We need to encourage our customers, friends and family to install wasp traps and monitor for nests in their local community. We can help create a network of ‘Wasp Eradication Warriors’ that are excited about contributing to the ecology and biodiversity of our Urban Environment. Let’s grow our Backyards into mini Urban National Parks one wasp nest eradication at a time. If you enjoyed reading this article thanks goes to the team at Elite Pest Control Ltd for providing advice, experience, data and photos – our main Suppliers; Garrards, Ensystex and Key Industries who have supported our two decade long education in the Pest Management Industry and PMANZ who provided the foundation for us to be a success in the Industry

Psocids or Book-lice

Quick facts Psocids are common outdoor insects, although some species are occasionally found inside buildings. They rarely cause damage and are mostly just a nuisance. They do not harm people or pets. The best way to manage psocids in homes is to reduce moisture. Psocids or Book-lice They have long, filamentous antennae and a  characteristic bulging clypeus (the area just above the mouth parts). They have chewing mouth parts and the wings of domestic species are usually absent. They range in size from 1/25 to 1/13 of an inch (1 to 2 mm) in length. Colouration is from almost colourless to grey or light brown. Food: Psocids feed upon microscopic moulds. Thus, any manufactured material of plant origin that would support the growth of these moulds is susceptible to their attack. They are found in nature on the bark of trees and shrubs, preferring damp, warm, undisturbed environments. They can commonly be found in books and book bindings, storage boxes, paper and goods  Life Cycle: Psocids undergo simple metamorphosis to develop to maturity. Eggs will hatch 21 days after being laid. This nymph will reach sexual maturity in 24 to 65 days. Females lay anywhere from 20 – 50 eggs depending on the time of year. Their total life span is from 24 to 110 days. Facts, Identification & Control Latin Name : Order Psocoptera Appearance How to identify psocids Psocids are soft-bodied insects. They are less than 3/16 inches long with long, slender antennae. They are generally white, gray or brown in colour. Psocids have either four wings or are wingless. They have a large nose called a clypeus. There are more than 200 species of psocids (often pronounced “so-sheed” or “so-sid”).  Most psocids are tiny insects. Depending on the species, the size ranges from 1 to 6 mm. The colour of psocids varies according to the species. Psocids that live outdoors often have wings. Psocids that invade homes usually have very small wings or no wings at all. Psocids have chewing mouthparts, but they do not bite people or pets. When they invade kitchens, they can contaminate open packages of food. Behaviour, Diet & Habits Psocids are tiny insects that live in damp environments. They eat mould and mildew. Some people call them barklice or booklice. The name barklice probably comes from the fact that outdoors they gather under the bark of trees. The name booklice comes from the fact that they gather on mouldy books in damp homes. Experts think that the sizing and starch in the bindings of books supports mould growth in humid environments. Psocids invade areas where there is dampness and mould, like basements and crawlspaces. They also infest areas where a plumbing leak causes mildew or mould to grow. Psocids have infested bath traps with leaking or sweating pipes. They have also infested air conditioning drain lines. They feed on mould in their damp environment. Psocids often seem to appear suddenly. This may be because they are so small that people do not notice them when there are only a few around. Some people think psocids look like tiny termites. Psocids cannot retain water in their bodies, so they are sensitive to changes in humidity. A key step in controlling psocids is reducing the humidity in their environment. When the humidity is low, the psocids will die. If the humidity stays low, they will not re-infest. Reproduction The females lay eggs in the spring and summer. The immature insects are called nymphs. They look like the adults but have no wings.The main sign of psocids is the sighting of the psocids themselves on surfaces or in products. Moisture Make a careful inspection to find the moisture sources. If psocids are active in the kitchen, start the inspection under the sink. Empty the cabinet if necessary. Inspect every area that has plumbing. In the bathroom, there should be a trap door near the head of the bathtub for access to the pipes. Inspect tile walls carefully. If grout is missing, mildew can grow behind the tiles. There can be other moisture sources besides the plumbing. Look at the gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are not blocked. Downspouts should drain away from the foundation. Check the crawlspace vents. They should be open in warm weather. If there is moisture on basement walls, specialists at the home store can recommend ways to waterproof them. A dehumidifier can also help reduce moisture in a basement. The local pest control professional can select techniques that are effective in the situation. Barklice  Most psocids live outdoors and have wings and are known as barklice.  They are found on tree bark, leaves of trees and shrubs, and under stones.   They can become obvious when they assemble in large numbers. Barklice feed on fungi, lichen, pollen, decaying plants and other organic material. They are harmless to plants and treatment is not needed. Booklice Some psocids (usually Liposcelis spp.) are wingless and can be found inside buildings. They are called booklice because they are often found near books or paper. Booklice are rarely damaging inside homes and are harmless to people or pets. Booklice usually feed on moulds, fungi, grains, insect fragments, and other starchy material, including glue from bookbindings. In homes, psocids typically are found in damp, warm, undisturbed places where mould and fungi are growing. People commonly find them during summer. They can cause problems if stored cardboard becomes wet.   They can be a nuisance in large numbers. In food Psocids are sometimes pests in commercial food storage and food manufacturing facilities.  Psocids in food indicate fungal or mould problems.

Effects of Possums on Native Animals

Opossums (Possums) Brushtail possums were among the earliest animals introduced into New Zealand by European settlers. They were first brought from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur industry. During the 1940s, evidence of damage by possums to New Zealand’s forests increased, and in 1947 all restrictions on possum hunting were removed and penalties for releasing them were increased. The number of possums in New Zealand was estimated some years ago at 70 million, significantly more than the number of sheep. Today possums are considered the major animal pest in New Zealand. In farming areas they spread bovine tuberculosis to beef and dairy cattle and to farmed deer, damage crops and orchards, kill poplars and willows planted to control hill-country erosion and stabilise riverbanks, and eat pasture. Effects of Possums on Native Animals Until recently, possums were seen as serious conservation pests mainly as a result of their effects on native plants.   Although they had sometimes been seen eating birds and insects, few people previously appreciated the role possums played as a direct predator (rather than just a plant-eating competitor) in reducing populations of native birds. That has now changed following a study of the kokako (a rare bird) in which Land-care Research filmed possums eating kokako eggs and killing chicks.   Four of 19 nests recorded on time-lapse video failed because of possum predation, and possums were probably responsible for one third of the nests suffering predation found during this 4-year study. Possums have also been seen killing or eating eggs, chicks, or adults of at least five other native birds including kukupa (native pigeon).   During 1996 and 1997, three more sequences of possums threatening adult kukupa and eating their eggs were filmed by night time video cameras. TRICHOSURUS VULPECULA Possums … the Pros and Cons of Different Poisons Possums can be controlled by shooting, trapping, and poisoning.   A range of toxic bait formulations are available, containing one of the six poisons currently registered for possum control: 1080, phosphorus, cholecalciferol, cyanide, brodifacoum, or pindone. 1080 (Sodium fl uoroacetate) Compound 1080 is the most widely used poison (in carrot, cereal and paste baits) for situations where possum numbers need to be reduced rapidly over large areas.   Carrot baits are screened to remove small pieces so as to reduce the risk of birds eating baits. Cereal its are used for both aerial and bait station control.   Paste baits are used extensively for  ground-based follow-up maintenance control.   Cinnamon is sometimes added to possum baits to act as a lure and mask the taste of 1080 Phosphorus Phosphorus is used as a paste and is generally applied to turf spits on the ground. Cholecalciferol All registered bait formulations (pellets, paste and gel formulations) contain 0.8%  cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) for field application in bait stations for possum control and do not require a licence to use. Cyanide Cyanide paste baits are applied at times and in locations where exposure to rain or  moisture is minimised.   Pastes are generally applied with lures in various types of weatherproof bait station above ground level but may also be applied as an ‘unprotected’, roughly pea-sized portion of paste. Anticoagulants  (Brodifacoum and Pindone) Anticoagulant cereal baits containing brodifacoum and pindone are registered for use against possums.   These baits are generally used to maintain low possum numbers following use of fast-acting poisons for the initial population reduction.

Imaginary Pests

Illusory and Delusory Parasitosis BY BARB OGG, PHD, Some people encounter “bites,” itching, or skin irritations thought to be caused by insects but for which no insects can be identified. Illusory parasitosis is one name used to describe bite-like symptoms caused by non-animal environmental factors. Names that people have invented for the nonexistent arthropods assumed to be the cause of the bites are “paper mites,” “sand fleas,” and “cable mites.” There are no such insects. There is an arthropod named the “house dust mite,” but these very small mites do not bite people, but feed on sloughed skin cells, dander and other organic debris. When dust mites die, their bodies disintegrate into very small particles. Persons who have allergic sensitivities may experience an allergic reaction to the fine particles; the most typical reaction is asthma rather than skin irritations. There are only a few biting insects that produce skin reactions, and these are large enough to be seen and readily identified. Biting pests most commonly encountered include fleas, head lice, ticks, bat bugs, bed bugs, and mosquitoes. Body lice are relatively uncommon in the U.S. Occasionally, people claim that they are being bitten by microscopic bugs. These claims prove to be mites carried by pet cats or pesty rodents or birds (usually pigeons or barn swallows) that live on or near the homes of these unfortunate people. Because humans are not the usual host animal, the problem is controlled by removing the rodent or bird infestation or having the cats treated by a veterinarian. The only mites that infest humans are called scabies mites which cause dermatitis. Dermatitis from scabies mites is almost exclusively found on the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and elbows and is often a problem with older sedentary persons. Nursing homes sometimes may have to deal with infestations of scabies mites. Scabies mite infestations must be identified and treated by a dermatologist who prescribes medicated ointment and lotion. There is a long list of potential causes for “biting” sensations or skin irritation not caused by insects. The cause may be physical, physiological, psychological or combinations of these factors. Physical factors may include dry air; static electricity; household or personal products like disinfectants, detergents, cosmetics, or jewelry. Environmental pollutants also may cause skin irritation. These pollutants include microscopic fibers like fiberglass or paper splinters. In addition, indoor air pollution can cause “sick or tight-building syndrome.” Physiological factors include sensitivity (i.e., allergies) to any of the above physical factors. One should be aware that skin sensitivities and allergies may change as we get older and our skin changes. There also may be diseases and disorders such as diabetes or neurological disorders such as shingles that may result in skin problems. Some individuals may experience a heightened psychological state related to stress in their lives from increased anxiety, anger, and nervousness. Occasionally these persons may believe skin irritations are caused by insect bites, but the biting insects cannot be found. If environmental factors are not the cause of the dermatitis, the person may be suffering from delusory parasitosis. Delusory parasitosis is “an erroneous, unshakable belief that the skin is infested with some parasite.” When asked to describe the so-called parasite (i.e., insect), persons suffering from this malady often give similar descriptions. They are usually “microscopic”; they often “change color” so they cannot be seen or caught easily. Sometimes they “disappear” when a person tries to catch them. Some persons may think the imaginary insect “lives in their skin pores” ; others may see “maggots coming out of their skin.” Persons suffering from delusory parasitosis have a serious psychological disorder and might benefit greatly from counseling with a capable psychotherapist. These individuals may seem to be normal in other respects. Obviously, entomologists are not the appropriate specialists for diagnosis of causes of dermatitis other than those caused by insects. Persons suffering from skin irritation of unknown cause should work closely with their general physician, a dermatologist or allergist. If there is a history of psychological stress, consultation with a psychologist or psychiatrist may be helpful. Repeated application of pesticides or disinfectants to the premises or body does not cure illusory or delusory parasitosis but may be a cause of further skin irritation and allergies.

Flying insect control

Be fly-free this summer with effective fly removal from Elite Pest Control in Canterbury. Flies are more than a nuisance, they are the most prolific vectors of disease.  Here’s why . . . Flies are born in filth and carry the diseases from that filth on their legs and bodies wherever they go.  Flies can’t eat solid food so when they settle on your food they vomit on it, then stamp on it to soften it up then they suck it back up in order to digest it. Then it’s your turn . . . A new generation of flies, under normal conditions, can be expected every 10 days.  The average egg deposit of each female fly is 120 eggs. Elite is responsible for servicing such facilities  where the need is to actively involve ourselves in the latest prevention measures to make sure that any insect control program is  effective. The first step is to prevent as many flies and insects as possible from entering in the first place and by eliminating potential breeding sites on the inside applying strict sanitation requirements. A three stage defence against flies should be utilised regardless of the size or type of premises being treated. 1st Defence –  Residual Treatment. The product we use is a Synthetic Pyrethroid (SP), which is based on natural Pyrethrum found in the Chrysanthemum Daisy.  The wonderful aspect of SP’s is that they not only kill insects after they come in contact with a treated surface but they also deter a large number from even coming into your home.  SP’s  are very toxic for cold blooded creatures so be careful if you have fish or reptiles. Residual treatment is sprayed on the inside  walls, ceiling and  around windows and doors. The treatment is applied to the exterior of the building as well.  This treatment helps to kill any insect activity outside prior to making entry. We would also recommend the use mechanical traps (Glue Traps Light Zappers etc) to help control the flies and insects that do not land on the treated surfaces. The products we use are approved and registered in NZ through.  They are approved for use inside and outside your home or business and are safe to be used in these areas. There are different species of flies invading homes which act in different ways.  Flies must contact a treated surface before they start to die. Flies that hover in the middle of a room such as the Lessor Housefly normally don’t make contact with a treated surface and will not be controlled by this method of treatment. 2nd Defence – against hovering, lessor flies. A full time, non chemical system for flying insect control Electronic flying insect control systems are available in a range of models. They attract, kill and collect flying insects. Important information…. All fly killers must be serviced regularly for effectiveness. 3RD Defence against filthy flies Our new weapon against flies is called QUICK BAYT.  QuickBayt is a Fly Bait specially formulated to quickly and effectively control files around the outside of commercial facilities and production facilities. QuickBayt  may also be mixed with water and used to paint on to surfaces where flies rest. Containing .5% Imidacloprid. Tests have shown Imidicloprid kills many more flies than standard fly baits, plus it works in less than sixty seconds and lasts up to four weeks. If you would like us to come and see you and your premises please do not hesitate to contact us at the office (03) 332 1962 or directly on cell phone 021 911558. We will be only to pleased to discuss your concerns further. Inspection Inspect tolocate the areas and materials that are attracting the flies,identify the flies that are present.The following describes indoor control methods for house flies. If the inspection found it to be a cluster fly or other large fly, or fruit or other small flies, specific control methods will be somewhat different – although sanitation and exclusion are key to controlling virtually any pest. Sanitation Exclusion Keep window and door screens in good repair. Keep doors, windows and vents closed as much as possible. (open windows on the cooler windy side of your house only) Caulk or cover other possible fly entry areas, such as around vents. Screen vent openings. Plug weep holes with pieces of nylon or plastic scouring pads or square pieces of window screening that are 4 to 5 inches wide When warranted, use automatic door closing devices. Seal all cracks and holes in the house siding and around windows or doors. Adult house flies, cluster flies and other species often overwinter in wall voids and attics then enter homes from the attic or wall voids at different times during the winter. Prevent this with the same exclusion methods.Mechanical Control Fly swatters can kill small numbers of flies, but be careful to not swat flies near food preparation areas, because this can contaminate food with flying body parts. Some traps can help control flies, such as sticky fly papers or ribbons that include an odor attracted. House flies are also attracted to white surfaces, thus the reason many sticky traps come in white. These should be used in food preparation areas or where infants, elderly or insecticide-sensitive people sleep. Flies traps can be baited with molasses, sugar, fruit or meat. Pre-baited traps often use fly pheromones (sex attractants) Ultraviolet light traps can be useful, but must be properly placed. Placement:where it cannot be seen from outside, so it doesn’t attract flies indoors.no more than 5 feet above the floor – where most flies fly.away from competing light sources and food preparation areas.where they are not competing with daytime sunlight. Chemical Control Chemical control is one component of an integrated fly management program. It is recommended that all other methods be attempted first, because flies have become resistant to many insecticides making fly populations difficult to control with such chemicals. When needed:Pesticide-releasing fly strips can be placed in attics and small, unoccupied rooms, such as closets and storage rooms. Spraying

Midge Fly Biology and Control

Midge Fly Biology and Control of Non-Biting Aquatic Midges. BY: CHARLES APPERSON, MICHAEL WALDVOGEL AND STEPHEN BAMBARA, EXTENSION ENTOMOLOGY Non-biting midge flies or chironomids commonly occur in inland and coastal natural and man-made bodies of water. These midges are commonly known as “blind mosquitoes” because they are mosquito-like but do not bite. Midges are also called “fuzzy bills” because of the male’s bushy antennae. These aquatic insects are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. Chironomid midges are found in swift moving streams, deep slow moving rivers, stagnant ditches, and in lakes and ponds that are rich in decomposing organic matter. The presence of certain chironomid midges is often used as an indicator of water quality. Bodies of water in urban and suburban areas are subjected to intensive human use through residential, recreational and agricultural activities. Through runoff, these ponds and lakes often become exceedingly rich in nutrients. Consequently, the variety of organisms in such habitats is usually low with just a few pollution tolerant species developing large populations. Some species of chironomid midges that are tolerant of low dissolved oxygen conditions often are a major component of the bottom invertebrate organisms of urban and suburban lakes, ponds and storm water retention ponds. Midge Fly, Beneficial Aspects. Most species of chironomid midges are highly desirable organisms in aquatic habitats. Midges are an important food source for fish and predatory aquatic insects. Larvae “clean” the aquatic environment by consuming and recycling organic debris. Economic Impacts In urban environments where homes are constructed adjacent to lakes and ponds, adult midges often emerge in extremely large numbers, causing a variety of nuisance and other problems for people who reside within the flight range of these insects. Adults are weak flyers and may fly or be blown ashore where they congregate on vegetation, under porch alcoves in carports and on walls of homes and other buildings. Swarms of adults may be so dense that they interfere with outdoor activities and stain walls, cars and other surfaces upon which they rest. Adults are attracted to lights and may accumulate in large numbers on window screens and around porch and street lights. The occurrence of midges promotes the growth of spiders whose unsightly webs may have to be removed frequently. Midge Fly Life Cycle There are four stages in the life cycle of chironomid midges. Eggs are laid on the surface of the water. Each gelatinous egg mass may contain up to 3,000 eggs depending on the species. Eggs sink to the bottom and hatch in several days to one week. After leaving the egg mass, larvae burrow into the mud or construct small tubes in which they live. Larvae enlarge their tubes as they grow. Suspended organic matter in the water and in the mud is used as food by the developing larvae. After they grow, the larvae take on a pink color and gradually turn a dark red. Consequently, mature larvae are commonly called “blood worms”. The red color results from an iron containing compound, haemoglobin, that is in the midge’s blood. The haemoglobin allows the larvae to respire under low dissolved oxygen conditions in the bottom mud. The larval stage can take from less that 2 to 7 weeks depending on water temperature. Larvae transform into pupae while still in their tubes. After 3 days, pupae actively swim to the sur-face, and adults emerge several hours later. Adults mate in swarms soon after emerging. Because they do not feed, adults live for only 3 to 5 days. During summer, the entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in 2 to 3 weeks. In the fall, larvae do not pupate, but they suspend development and pass through the winter months as mature larvae. Pupation and emergence of adults occurs the following spring in late March or early April. Several more generations of midges will be produced throughout summer, resulting in mass emergences of adults. In each generation, adults will typically emerge in large numbers for several weeks. Breeding Sites  Chironomid midges are one of the most common and most abundant organisms in natural and man-made aquatic habitats. Larvae are found in small and large natural lakes, sewage oxidation and settling ponds, residential lakes and ponds, and slow moving shallow rivers. Densities of over 4,000 larvae/ft 2 often occur on the bottoms of nutrient rich bodies of water. During emergence periods, it is not unusal for several thousand adults per square yard of surface to ermerge on a nightly basis. Needless to say, midges emerging from these bodies of water may cause severe nuisance and other economic problems. Control Measures Physical and Cultural Nutrient reduction. Dense larval populations usually occur in nutrient rich habitats. Fertilizer run-off from residential lawns and garden, golf courses and agricultural fields are sometimes responsible for the development of nuisance populations of midges. Community awareness and education about proper use of fertilizers can avoid excess run-off into lakes, ponds and streams and can help reduce midge populations. . Winter draw down. Exposure of bottom muds by draining lakes and reservoir during winter months will kill over wintering midge larvae, reducing the size of the adult population emerging in spring. Understandably, this method may not be practical for all bodies of water. Diversion of adults. Many lakes and reservoirs that produce nuisance populations of midges have homes and businesses constructed along the shore lines. After emergence, midge adults are attracted to shoreline lights. High intensity white light has been found to be highly attractive to adults. Keep window blinds closed and porch light off during heavy emergence periods to help reduce the number of adults attracted to residences. Strategically placed high intensity white lights my divert midges away from populated areas. Electrocution traps. Electrocutor traps will attract and kill large numbers of midge adults. It is doubtful that a single electrocutor trap could kill a sufficient number of midge adults to appreciably reduce nuisance populations. In addition, during heavy adult activity, the trap may malfunction as a result

FERAL CATS

Felis catus have been human pets for thousands of years. When  abandoned, cats go wild very quickly and are then called feral. They are considered urban pests as they reproduce uncontrolled. They are a pest because they scavenge rubbish tins and hunt native birds. They also carry fleas, ticks, ringworm and mange  and these can infect household pets. They contaminate food and raw materials with diseases and their droppings. They can also infect farm animals and humans with toxoplasmosis and if infected can transmit tuberculosis. Life Cycle Gestation period for the female is 58 days with two to four kittens being born. Kittens will start to hunt at ten weeks old and are weaned at four months the family will separate at six months and kittens will be fully grown at ten months. Oestrus cycles begin when female cats reach puberty, which can be as early as 4 months right through to 10 months of age. Females are usually ready to reproduce at 12 months and can produce two litters a year. Habits and Characteristics Active mainly at dusk and dawn, they prey on small mammals like rodents and rabbits small birds, fish, lizards and insects. They hunt by stalking and ambushing prey. Cats scent-mark their territory by urine spraying and secretions from anal glands. They will avoid human contact and always have an escape route and when cornered they will hiss, bite and claw. Because we are familiar with cats as pets, most people will feed  stray cats which makes the problem worse. Recently abandoned feral cats will often become skinny and be prone to infections especially cat flu. Control. Control is a very emotive issue, and when planning control care must be taken to ensure all parties are informed of the type of control methods being used.

 White Tail Spiders

Lampona cylindrata spiders were first introduced into New Zealand from Australia over a hundred years ago and have gradually become widespread. They have a preference for warm, dry environments and are likely to be found both inside and outside houses.  Adult spiders have black or dark grey bodies and are readily identified by a small white patch at the rat end of the body. Juveniles have several paired white spots down the back. Fully grown spiders are about 15 mm in length with shiny black legs that can span a 20 cent coin. These spiders lurk in dark corners and wander about at night, mostly feeding the on the common house spider (Badumna longinquus).  White tailed spiders often enter houses and find their ways into clothing and beds where humans can disturb them. They will only bite if provoked but this can happen accidentally, especially if caught up in bedding or clothes or squeezed in some way. Taking articles such as firewood (indoors) could provide a means of introducing spiders into the home environment. EFFECT OF BITES Lampona cylindrata spiders are known to bite although in most cases, bites cause little harm and in some cases, the bite may not be felt. However, bites sometimes result in painful localised rashes and intense itching. There is no evidence of some ulceration or necrosis.  The likelihood of being bitten by Lampona cylindrata is low, even though the spider is quite common.  The toxicity of the venom is low.  If bites occur, the consequences are usually minor and no treatment other than cleaning with a mild antiseptic is required. The evidence suggests that bites do not lead to a loss of skin down to the deeper layers (necrosis). Medical advise should be sought if you have blistering or ulceration. It is most likely an infection unrelated to White Tails.