Cicada Killers, Cicadas and Cow Killer Ants

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the GRO Big Red Blog, please do! Our colleagues at Nebraska Extension in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, and our own Jody Green in Lancaster County, regularly share resources to help you GRO Big! https://grobigred.com/

Cow Killer Ant (Velvet Ant). This is not an "ant" but a wasp!

Cow Killer Ant (Velvet Ant). This is not an “ant” but a wasp!

It’s that time of year when cicadas “sing”, and their predators are on the hunt. Learn more about cicada killer wasp, annual cicadas and cow killer ants:

Cicada Killer Season is Upon Us – Jonathan Larson

Video: Cicada Killer Wasp – Jonathan Larson & Jody Green

Annual Cicadas: The Musicians of Summer – Jonathan Larson

Cow Killer Ant: Wrongfully Accused – Jody Green

If you have other pest and wildlife questions, we have resources on-line at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest or contact your local extension office.

Have a great day!!

Soni

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Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere
http://lancaster.unl.edu

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Flour Beetles: Pesky Pests of the Pantry

Another common pantry pest of homes are flour beetles. Flour beetles are very common in homes. They can fly in from outdoors or be brought into the home on infested products  from the grocery store.

There are two flour beetles that have similar biology, behaviors, lifecycle and feeding habits, the red and confused flour beetles. The red flour beetle has a three-segmented club, and the confused beetle does not. This difference though slight, provides an important difference when dealing with origin of the infestation because the red flour beetle is a flier and the confused flour beetle is not capable of flight.

red-flour-beetle

Red flour beetle has a three-segmented club. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Adult flour beetles are approximately 1/8 inch long and reddish-brown in color. The larvae are creamy to yellow-brown, with light hairs and pointed projections on the last segment. Before pupation, mature larvae are about 1/4 inch long. All life stages can be found in large numbers feeding on broken kernels and other grain products.

Flour beetle larvae

Flour beetle larvae. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Signs of red flour beetle infestations in the home include:

1) Adult beetles flying around inside the house. They are attracted to light and may accumulate along the window sills.

2) Larvae and adults can be found together in the same food products that contain flour and grain products.

Red flour beetle adult and larva feeding on dog biscuit (Photo by J. Green)

Red flour beetle adult and larva feeding on dog biscuit. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Prevention and sanitation is your best protection against flour beetles. Here are some ways you can prevent infestations in the home, minimize wasted food and save money:

  • Before purchase, check expiration dates for old products that have been on the shelves for a long period of time.
  • Be extra cautious buying plenty of heavily discounted products on clearance.
  • Avoid buying in bulk and storing large quantities of products in the pantry.
  • Store products in air-tight, transparent, insect-proof containers.
  • Use the oldest products first to ensure freshness and proper stock rotation.
  • Store infrequently used dry ingredients in the freezer.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs in food storage areas so not to attract pests.
  • Vacuum cracks and crevices where insects can hide and grains can accumulate.
  • Dispose infested foods in trash and put outdoors.
  • Flour beetles are often found devouring old dog biscuits forgotten on high shelves or trapped under furniture.

Treatment strategies for red and confused flour beetle do not include insecticide use inside the home. A thorough inspection is necessary to locate and eliminate the source of the infestation for a long term solution. Most people overlook prepackaged and prepared foods, unopened packages and non-food items, but a variety of products are vulnerable. There are pheromone traps available, that will trap beetles in a pitfall trap, but these are preferred as a monitoring tool, rather than a control method.

Flour beetles

Flour beetles can be a problem that starts at the manufacturing facility like the flour mill. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Flour beetles can occur year round in heated buildings. Keep your eye on your food and don’t share it with pantry pests.

Confessions of an Extension Entomologist: I bake so infrequently, that our flour is stored permanently in air tight containers in the freezer. If I didn’t have this job, I might be a professional pantry specialist. I enjoy organizing other people’s stored food products and finding insect-infested products. Note: Always check the pancake mix.

Red flour beetles in pancake mix

Flour beetles of all life stages and cast skins (exoskeletons) in pancake mix. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

For more information on pests found in and around the home, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest.

Stay calm and respect the critters,

Jody

 

 

Fruit Flies: The Red Eye Guys

Fruit flies are small, but not microscopic, have short life cycles and can reproduce rapidly in tiny spaces with limited resources. These characteristics make fruit flies the model organism for genetic research, but are the very reason why fruit flies are such a nuisance when they appear in our homes.

Identification and Biology

Fruit flies are 1/8 inch long and typically have red eyes. They are one of the smallest and most common flies in houses, restaurants and grocery stores – anywhere food ripens, rots and ferments. Fruit flies begin as eggs before they hatch into legless larvae or maggots. The maggots enter a pupal stage so they can develop into mature, winged adult flies. They are active year round indoors, but their life cycle will slow considerably at cooler temperatures. Under optimal conditions in the summer, they can complete their life cycle in 7-10 days.

Fruit fly

The fruit fly has red eyes, two wings, and dark stripes on the abdomen. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

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Tiny Bugs with a BIG Bite!

I’m going to take a moment to vent too ….. I happen to be one of the folks who can’t enjoy the outdoors right now around my home because of all of these tiny, black bugs that bite like the dickens! I get welts from them. My colleague Jody Green braved a “probing” just so we could get the great photo below!

If you are one of the folks suffering from the bites of minute pirate bugs (they look like a black dot on your arm – you may not see the markings as you squish it), here’s an article from one of our Nebraska Extension colleagues Jonathan Larson. Bottom line: There’s not much you can do. Cover up. Try a repellent or baby oil on the skin. Wait for a hard freeze…. oh, and they are beneficial, really – they are … read on —- Soni

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green's arm

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green’s arm with its piercing-sucking mouthpart at the front of its head. Photo by Dr. Jody Green, Extension Educator Urban Entomology.

Minute Pirate Bugs: Tiny Bugs with a Bite!
Dr. Jonathan L. Larson, Nebraska Extension
September 19, 2016

Arrr! It is national talk like a pirate day today and it’s truly fitting as we are also receiving the first reports of problems with minute pirate bugs. These bugs get their minute moniker because as adults they are only about 1/8 inch long. Adults are oval-shaped, have a black body with an off-white/brown bar across their back and white diamond on their wing tips. As nymphs they are an orange hue and lack wings, they actually resemble their cousin the bed bug a little bit. Worldwide, there are over 500 species of minute pirate bug but we mainly deal with only one species in this area, the insidious flower beetle (Orius insidiosus). Continue reading

Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials

2LeafcutterBee2016No matter where you live – urban/rural, in an apartment or single family home, you can (and should) support native pollinators. Did you know one out of every three bites of food/drink come from native pollinators?

Here’s an activity you can do with the entire family! For more tips and resources on creating pollinator-friendly habitats, visit https://buzzatcherrycreekunl.wordpress.com/

The Buzz at Cherry Creek

Native bees are important pollinators. Some native bees, like leaf cutter bees and mason bees, nest in hollow plant stems.  You can help native solitary bees by providing a man-made bee nest. The kids that attended my Clover College workshop last week made these bee nests. They had a fun time and this would be easy for your family to make for Pollinator Week.

Supplies

1 ¾ inch plastic lid from juice container

Paper towel tube cut to 7 inches in length (we use the tube from automated paper towel dispensers) If you use a regular sized paper towel tube, the plastic juice container lid will need to be 1 ½ inches.

Paper drinking straws cut to 6 inches in length

Mason bee tubes (optional)

Duct tape

Zip ties or twine

supplies Bee Nest supplies: paper towel tube, plastic lid, paper straws and duct tape.

Instructions

Push the juice container lid…

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Those Crickets are a-Chirpin’

Field CricketI love fall in Nebraska – it is my favorite season. Along with the cooler temperatures, lower humidity, beautiful changing landscape and football, we do have to put up with a few accidental invaders looking for warmer places to hang out. Last week, I had two male crickets chirping away in my kitchen. One was under the kitchen sink, the other was near my stove “somewhere”. Of course when I tried to investigate my “choir”, the crickets quickly stopped chirping.

What to do?  If you do nothing, the crickets will die in a few days. If you just can’t tolerate this “choir” in your home, try a mouse glue board —

  1. You can purchase flat, sticky mouse glue boards where mousetraps are sold – farm supply, hardware, discount and even in some grocery stores.
  2. Cut your glue board down to a size where you can put it out of the way, but near the chirping sound. (Hint: Cut your board before you take off the film protecting the adhesive).
  3. Once your board is trimmed, pour a small bit of cornmeal right in the center. Crickets are attracted to cornmeal and will get stuck on the board so you can easily take care of the problem.
  4. If you don’t have small children or pets, you can place your glue boards in corners of the room. This is especially helpful in basements and garages. You’ll catch wandering spiders, beetles and other accidental invaders without using insecticides.

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Her Head was Made of Cabbage & the Cabbage was Full of Bugs

head liceCindy Lange-Kubick is a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper here in Lincoln. She contacted me yesterday about head lice. Schools are back in session and there have been reports about “Super Resistant Lice” in the news lately – PERFECT TIMING! We had a great conversation. I’ve always enjoyed Cindy’s writing style and I think you will be too. She begins by talking about a nightmare she had … “My head was made of cabbage and the cabbage was full of bugs … “. Now I haven’t had that same nightmare, but we’ve had to deal with lice in our home too over the years so I totally get it (as I scratch my scalp thinking about it!).

I wanted to share Cindy’s article with you because she does a much better job capturing the experience of having head lice!

Here’s a link to the article: “My giant cabbage head and my years as the scalp police” by Cindy Lange-Kubick

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