With the extreme heat wave in Eastern Nebraska lately, firebrats are literally coming out of the woodwork. One of the most common comments I get from clients who show up at our office with a mystery specimen is:
“I never have pests, but I found this…”
Most people have heard of silverfish, but have you heard of firebrats?
The firebrat is an indoor pest commonly found in areas of high heat and humidity. It is a mottled brown-gray color, with long antennae and 3 tail-like appendages. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraskas Extension in Lancaster County.
Description of the Pest
Silverfish and firebrats look similar in shape, size (¼ to ½ inch long) and number of appendages. Collectively, they belong to a group of insects called bristletails (Order: Thysanura). They are both wingless, soft-bodied, carrot-shaped insects with two thin antennae on the head and three tail-like appendages extending from their tapered abdomen. The difference between silverfish and firebrats include the stoutness of the bodies and the color of scales. Firebrats appear stouter with a mottled brown-gray color, and silverfish are narrower in the abdomen with powdery, dull, silver scales. As their name implies, they move like a fish.
According to a recent study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) sociologists found older married men with disabilities may do better when their wives become more demanding. Researchers found married men faced with long-term physical limitations feel less lonely if their wives engage in more demanding and critical behavior. If wives were more supportive to their husbands, the study showed it did not matter at all.
“Among current cohorts of older married men, there is an expectation that their wives are going to manage their health, that she’s going to be the one who makes sure he’s going to the doctor, eating correctly, doing his physical therapy,” Warner said. “For men, this ‘nagging,’ in a long-running marriage, is a signal that your spouse is invested in you, in your health, in maintaining your independence.”
The last few weeks brought an influx of a curious insect pest described by some as a cross between an ant-cockroach-beetle with pointy pincers extending from the rear end. The pest in question is none other than the European earwig. and judging from the lack of literature in our Extension files, it hasn’t been a common pest inside houses in Nebraska.
European earwig is occasionally found inside homes, not in ears. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
When I tell people their specimen is an earwig, they immediately touch their ears, and shutter in despair. Earwigs do not crawl into ears, bore into brains and cause death to humans. This was an urban legend or myth. After doing a bit more digging, I found this interesting paper by entomologist, May Berenbaum (2007) about the entomology and etymology of earwigs.
What do earwigs look like?
Earwigs are their own order, Dermaptera, and they are quite unique looking. They are long, flattened, and a dark reddish-brown color with pale legs, wings and antennae. They are often about 5/8” long, which includes their forceps-like, pincer appendages called cerci. Cerci are used in mating rituals, defense against predators and to hunt prey. Earwigs have two pairs of wings but seldom fly. Their hindwings are larger than they appear, membranous, folded and tucked origami-style underneath short, leathery forewings. Immature earwigs resemble smaller versions of the adult, but lack wings.
Never leave children, the elderly, persons with disabilities or pets in a parked vehicle on hot days! What’s hot? …
Did you know that even on an 80 deg F day, temperatures in a vehicle can raise to unsafe levels in just a couple of minutes. In studies, cracking the windows makes very little difference.
From the National Weather Service:
A vehicle heats up quicker than you might imagine. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200°F. These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, child seat) heat the adjacent air adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation (red in the images below) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.
Shown below are time lapse photos of thermometer readings in a car over a period of less than an hour. These photos demonstrate just how quickly a vehicle can become a death trap.
A car sitting in a parking lot on an 80 degree day.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 10 minutes = 99 deg.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 20 minutes = 109 deg.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 30 minutes = 114 deg.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 40 minutes = 118 deg.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 50 minutes = 120 deg.
80 Deg Day Outside. Temperature of car after 60 minutes = 123 deg.
The August issue of the free NEBLINE newsletter is now on-line. Visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/nebline and click on the link to the August 2016 NEBLINE!
Here are some of the articles featured in this issue – – – –
- 4-H Clover College 20th Anniversary
- Cool Summer Salads – You can make salads in a jar & Two Ingredient Vinaigrette Recipe for Salads
- Using La Niña to Forecast the Weather
- Inheriting a Farm, Seminar Aug. 17 (Local program)
- Don’t Banish the Booster Until Children Are 57″ Tall
- All Ears for Earwigs
- Diversity is the Key to Attracting Wildlife
- Choosing a Birdbath
- Helping Pollinators: Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials
- August Garden Guide
- Grow Your Own Pest Control: Creating Habitat for Beneficial Insects
- Lincoln Center Kiwanis Receives the August Heart of 4-H Award
- 4-H’ers Test Family and Consumer Science, Entrepreneurship Skills at Life Challenge & Animal Science Skills at PASE
- Emerald Ash Borer Seminars Offered in July and August (Local programs)
If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml (nationwide listing).
Have a great day!!
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If you follow me on Twitter @JodyBugsMeUNL, you know a client brought me a brown recluse spider last week to confirm its identity. It was found in her garage inside a cooler that didn’t have a secure lid. It was the first live brown recluse that I’ve seen since joining Nebraska Extension in mid-March.
Body of the brown recluse spider was 3/8″ long and its legs were thin and long with no stripes, patterns or spines. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
Because I am a spider person, I was pretty excited.
Because I respect my coworkers, this spider is now a preserved specimen in the lab. I didn’t release it in the building like I do with most spiders.