Showing posts with label Insect. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Insect. Show all posts

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Brevard County Warns Residents To Brace For Mosquito Onslaught

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Brevard County officials are warning residents to brace for an anticipated onslaught of mosquitoes following recent rainfall across Florida’s Space Coast.

The impact could be felt as early as Sunday, June 12, 2017, and is expected to continue through Thursday, June 15, 2017. Chris Richmond, operations manager for Brevard County Mosquito Control, said the entire county will experience a series of large emergences of mosquitoes.

“This means that on each of those days new mosquitoes will emerge from breeding areas and take flight,” Richmond said. “We attempted all the possible preventative measures but the unusual rains during the daylight hours, and other factors outside of our control, have hindered pre-hatch and larval control efforts.”

Brevard County residents are encouraged to take personal pro-active measures to avoid mosquito bites, including the use of mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants while outdoors, and avoiding places and times when mosquitoes bite. Generally, the peak biting periods occur just before and after sunset and again just before dawn.

Richmond said Mosquito Control will address the most-infested areas first. Severity of infestation is based upon data from 88 mosquito monitoring stations at locations that are monitored and checked daily throughout the county.

“These emergence events may be larger than what most people have experienced previously,” Richmond said. “We will do our best to address the issue as quickly as weather conditions allow. We anticipate all mosquito control resources to be fully engaged with this effort for the next two weeks.”

Any rain event will cause mosquitoes to hatch in a 5- to 7-day period in any area that holds water.

Brevard County is only 10 days into the rainy season, which runs June 1 to November 30. The forecast through Monday, June 19, includes chances for rain and showers each day. Mosquito treatment by truck or air cannot take place if it is raining or winds exceed 10 to 15 mph.

Image credit: University of Florida

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tropical Bed Bugs Re-Appear In Florida After 60 Years

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida — For the first time in 60 years, a tropical bed bug that can develop more quickly than the common bed bug has been confirmed in Florida.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bees Use Hairs To Sense Electrical Fields From Flowers

Bees' hair detects electrical fields from flowers

Bees use the tiny hairs on their bodies to sense electrical fields from flowers to pick out which flower that they want to harvest pollen from, a recent study published in the international journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences found.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Guinea Flatworm Invades Florida

New Guinea flatworm in Coral Gables, Florida.  Credit: Makiri Sei.

MIAMI, Florida – The New Guinea flatworm, considered one of the 100 most invasive alien species in the world, has established itself in South Florida.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Deadly Kissing Bug Reported In 27 States

A blood-sucking conenose Triatomine bug also known as a "kissing" bug.
A blood-sucking conenose Triatomine bug also known as a “kissing” bug. Photo credit: UF/IFAS

Deadly kissing bugs have been found in over half of the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Triatomine bugs (also called reduviid bugs, assassin bugs, cone-nosed bugs, and blood suckers) are primarily nocturnal and feed on the blood of mammals (including humans), birds, and reptiles which can result in the transmission of  the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagas disease.

States reported to have kissing bugs. Map credit: CDC

The transmission of Chagas disease from the bug to a human can occur when it feeds near a sleeping person’s lips (which is why it is called the “kissing” bug). The parasite that causes the disease is in the bug feces. Because the kissing bug generally defecates on or near a person while it is feeding on his or her blood, the fecal material then gets rubbed into the bite wound or into the mouth, and the parasite enters the body.

Once transmission has taken place, most infected victims experience an acute illness phase with mild symptoms or nonspecific febrile illness that frequently goes unrecognized, according to the Florida Department of Health. After four to eight weeks or more, victims enter the chronic phase and parasites are generally not detected in the blood. Without treatment, they will remain infected for life. Some people will remain asymptomatic (indeterminate infection) but others (20-30%) will experience clinical symptoms including cardiac (heart) damage. This can range from mild changes on electrocardiogram to severe arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and sudden death. 

According to the University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology, this blood-sucking conenose bed bug enters into a home by crawling through cracks in the foundation, torn window screens, or other structural inadequacies; many times they enter by simply clinging to a domestic pet or to the clothing of an unaware person. Once indoors, they are found in bedding, cracks in the floors and walls, or under furniture.

The CDC advises the following precautions to reduce the chance of a kissing bug entering your home:

Sealing cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors

Removing wood, brush, and rock piles near your house

Using screens on doors and windows and repairing any holes or tears

If possible, making sure yard lights are not close to your house (lights can attract the bugs)

Sealing holes and cracks leading to the attic, crawl spaces below the house, and to the outside

Having pets sleep indoors, especially at night

Keeping your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs

Scientists Create Malaria-Blocking Mutant Mosquitoes

known malarial transmitter, the Anopheles stephensi mosquito draws blood from a human host. Credit: CDC / Jim Gathany

Scientists at the University of California have created a strain of mutant mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its offspring.

Researchers at the Irvine and San Diego campuses inserted a DNA element into the germ line of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes which resulted in the gene preventing malaria transmission being passed on to  99.5%of offspring. A. stephensi is a leading malaria vector in Asia.

Scientists used the CRISPR method to create the mutant mosquitoes, a powerful gene editing tool that allows access to a cell’s nucleus to snip DNA to either replace mutated genes or insert new ones.

“This opens up the real promise that this technique can be adapted for eliminating malaria,” said Anthony James, Distinguished Professor of molecular biology & biochemistry and microbiology and molecular genetics at UC Irvine.

To ensure that the element carrying the malaria-blocking antibodies had reached the desired DNA site, the researchers included a protein that gave the progeny red fluorescence in the eyes. Almost 100 percent of offspring (99.5%) exhibited this trait, which James said is an amazing result for such a system that can change inheritable traits.

He added that further testing will be needed to confirm the efficacy of the antibodies and that this could eventually lead to field studies. “This is a significant first step,” said James. “We know the gene works. The mosquitoes we created are not the final brand, but we know this technology allows us to efficiently create large populations.”

Malaria is one of the world’s leading health problems. More than 40% of the world’s population live in areas where there is a risk of contracting the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 300 million to 500 million cases of malaria occur each year, and nearly 1 million people die of the disease annually – largely infants, young children and pregnant women, mostly in Africa.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mutant Super Lice Found In 25 States, Including Florida

Head lice
Head lice. Credit: CDC

Scientists have discovered that lice populations in at least 25 states have mutated to develop a resistance to over-the-counter treatments still widely recommended by doctors and schools.

Researchers found that 104 out of the 109 lice populations tested in 30 states had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are a family of insecticides used widely indoors and outdoors to control mosquitoes and other insects. It includes permethrin, the active ingredient in some of the most common lice treatments sold at drug stores.  
Kyong Yoon, Ph.D., a researcher with Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, explained that the momentum toward widespread pyrethroid-resistant lice has been building for years. The first report on this development came from Israel in the late 1990’s. Yoon became one of the first to report the phenomenon in the U.S. in 2000 when he was a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

“I was working on insecticide metabolism in a potato beetle when my mentor, John Clark, suggested I look into the resurgence of head lice,” he says. “I asked him in what country and was surprised when he said the U.S.”

Intrigued, Yoon followed up on the lead and contacted schools near the university to collect samples. He suspected that the lice had developed resistance to the most common insecticides people were using to combat the bugs. So he tested the pests for a trio of genetic mutations known collectively as kdr, which stands for “knock-down resistance.” kdr mutations had initially been found in house flies in the late ’70s after farmers and others had shifted to pyrethroids from DDT and other harsh insecticides. 

Yoon found that many of the lice did indeed have kdr mutations, which affect an insect’s nervous system and desensitize them to pyrethroids. Since then, he has expanded his survey. 

Lice populations in the states colored pink have mutated to develop a high level of resistance to some of the most common treatments. Credit: Kyong Yoon, Ph.D.

In the most recent study, Yoon gathered lice from 30 states with the help of a broad network of public health workers. Population samples with all three genetic mutations associated with kdr came from 25 states, including California, Texas, Florida and Maine. Having all the mutations means these populations are the most resistant to pyrethroids. Samples from four states — New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oregon — had one, two or three mutations. The only state with a population of lice still largely susceptible to the insecticide was Michigan. Why lice haven’t developed resistance there is still under investigation, Yoon says. 

The solution? Yoon says that lice can still be controlled by using different chemicals, some of which are available only by prescription. 

But the situation also offers a cautionary tale. “If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance,” Yoon says. “So we have to think before we use a treatment. The good news is head lice don’t carry disease. They’re more a nuisance than anything else.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ants Use Jaws To Jump Out Of Antlion Pit: VIDEO

Credit: Video screen grab via YouTube/Adrian Smith.

Not all ants are doomed after stumbling into the pit of the antlion. University of Illinois researchers discovered that some species of trap-jaw ants use their spring-loaded mandibles to hurl themselves out of the pit. This dramatic maneuver doubles the ants’ survival rate when other escape methods fail, the researchers found.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Florida: Home of SUPER, MEGA, and CANNIBAL Mosquitoes in OUTER SPACE

Gallinipper / University of Florida Entomology & Nematology

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Not since the 1954 movie Creature from the Black Lagoon has Florida been tied to so many 1950's sci-fi movie-sounding headlines as this past week's national news cycle.

But with a real-life Mosquito Lagoon neighboring the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center, it was only matter of time that Cape Canaveral, second to only Roswell, New Mexico in location for sci-fi movie plots, became the center of yet another sensationalized sci-fi tabloid journalism story.

To separate fact from science fiction, Brevard Times has posted the following Q & A:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Researchers Warn Of Aggressive Mosquito In Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If mosquitoes were motorcycles, the species known as Psorophora ciliata would be a Harley-Davidson — big, bold, American-made and likely to be abundant in Florida this summer.

Just how abundant is a matter of speculation, but University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman says last year the state had a bumper crop of the huge, biting insects, which are sometimes called gallinippers. He said there may be a repeat on the way.