Thursday, September 19, 2013

Myths and Truths about Bugs!

Yellowjackets and Wasps
Myth #1: Bounce fabric softener sheets repel yellowjackets (or mosquitoes).
Wrong! The facts: A scientific study in 2010 set out to evaluate this claim. The conclusion was that the dryer sheets repelled fungus gnats – a common insect pest of greenhouse-grown crops – but there is no quantitative data to prove that they repel mosquitoes, or yellowjackets, or any common pest of humans. Director of R&D for RESCUE!®, Dr. Qing-He Zhang says that it is highly unlikely that yellowjackets would be repelled by the perfume-y smell of the dryer sheets; they may actually be attracted to it because of the flower-like odor.

Myth #2: Yellowjackets leave a stinger behind when they sting a victim.
Wrong! The facts: The only stinging species that does is the honey bee. Wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets do not leave behind a stinger – in fact, they can sting multiple times. They also bite the skin to get a better grip when they sting you.

Myth #3: A fake wasp nest repels wasps, because they are territorial.
Wrong! The facts: The fake nest in question, which several manufacturers have brought to market, is round, with one opening at the bottom. It actually resembles a bald-faced hornet nest and not a wasp nest. Through knowledge and observation of this social insect’s behavior, we know that wasps will often build nests in close proximity to each other. And sometimes if a wasp nest has been abandoned, a new queen will take over that nest. This fake wasp nest will also not deter hornets or yellowjackets, since they will most often build nests in sheltered locations.  (Wouldn’t you rather catch these insects in a trap where you can see the body count?)

Myth #4: Taping a copper penny over a sting will provide overnight relief from redness and swelling.
Wrong! The facts: There is no scientific evidence that the copper will counteract the effects of a sting, as it’s never been clinically tested. If someone is experiencing an allergic reaction, a better treatment is to do the following:
·         Wash the wound with soap and water to remove venom
·         Apply cold water, ice in a wet cloth, or a paste of meat tenderizer and water
·         Take a pain reliever or antihistamine to reduce swelling
·         Apply a calamine product to reduce itching
·         Lie down.
·         Lower the stung arm or leg below the heart.
·         Don’t drink alcohol or take sedatives.

If there is a severe allergic reaction where there is significant swelling, difficulty breathing or dizziness, medical attention should be sought immediately.


Flies
Myth #1:  A plastic bag full of water and pennies repels flies.
Wrong! The facts: This myth attributes mammal-like characteristics to an insect. Flies are supposedly scared off at the large amount of water or their own magnified reflections. The truth is that whatever a fly is seeking – food, garbage, or a dirty place to land – trumps any possibility of being repelled by some water in a bag.

Stink Bugs
Myth #1: Stink bugs bite.
Wrong! The facts: Stink bugs can't bite humans. Their mouthpieces resemble more of a straw-like mechanism, which is how they pierce fruit and vegetables and suck out their juices.

Myth #2: Crushing stink bugs and releasing their stink will attract more stink bugs.
Wrong! The facts: Stink bugs do have a pheromone that can cause them to gather in large groups, but that is not the same scent that is released when they are crushed.

Myth No. 3: Stink bugs can come in through your sewer lines or toilets.
Wrong! The facts: Stink bugs are not aquatic. If you see one in your sink, it is a coincidence, and if it is in your toilet, it probably fell in accidentally.

Myth No. 4: Stink bugs lay eggs in your house.
Wrong! The facts: Stink bugs only lay eggs outdoors so that their young will have food readily available.
Myth No. 5: Stink bugs will freeze outdoors in the winter and die.
Wrong! The facts: Stink bugs have survived winters in Allentown, Pa., since the mid-1990s. Some may die, but most find good hiding places to wait out the worst of winter.

Myth No. 6: Stink bugs can cut holes through window screens.
Wrong! The facts: Their mouthparts are incapable of cutting screens. They are capable, however, of crawling through the smallest crevices in a window.

Japanese Beetles
Myth #1: Traps lure Japanese beetles from miles around.
Wrong! The facts: Most attractants lure beetles from no more than 200 yards, says Dr. Klein. The beetles, however, are strong fliers and travel several miles, touching down at random intervals to see what's available for a meal.  If your yard looks attractive, they will come in for a landing on your plants – unless you have a trap to intercept them. The traps only lure beetles that are already in flight near the yard. The one place traps could be a problem is around the edge of a golf course or other large turf area, Dr. Klein says, but not in your average yard.

Myth #2: Traps make the problem worse by luring more beetles than they catch.
Wrong! The facts: This is the biggest misconception in beetle history.  The problem occurs when traps are placed incorrectly.  If next to a rose bush, a large number of beetles will be lured to that area, and some may land on the roses rather than in the trap.
·         Trap placement is critical. Don’t place the traps next to ornamental plants. Set traps about 30 feet from tasty plants to lure the beetles away. It’s best to place them next to a non-flowering tree or shrub, such as a pine tree or boxwood, which is not attractive to the beetles.
·         Enlist your neighbors to battle the beetles, too. Traps are effective in one yard alone, but when neighbors band together and put out traps in their yards, the overall beetle numbers are greatly reduced. Consider it a “neighborhood watch” for garden invaders!

Myth #3: Pesticides are safe to use on Japanese beetles.
So Wrong! The facts: Insecticides work on adult beetles, but they also kill beneficial pollinators, like bees.  Traps offer safe and “green” alternatives to chemical sprays targeting these bugs. Lure traps provide a visible means of combating a Japanese beetle problem without having a negative effect on the environment.

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