Symbio's
Non-Toxic
Pest Management
Index








Thank you for visiting this site.

Here you will find information that I hope will enable you to use non-toxic methods that are available to control various "pests" that you may come into contact with.

This index is limited to "pests" that are insects or related arthropods such as mites and ticks. It assumes you have been successful in at least identifying the pest in question, and are seeking additional information about how best to control it without the use of harmful chemicals or toxins.

It is important to keep in mind that the use of insecticides has been associated with allergies, and with some childhood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, and neuroblastoma. This includes the application of chemical compounds to eliminate insects by professional pest controllers and the frequency of use of household insecticides by homeowners. Specifically, the household use of organophosphate pesticides is associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Exposure to agricultural pesticides has been found to be associated with neural tube and other birth defects in infants, asthma and respiratory problems in adults, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in the elderly. Farm workers exposed to insecticides or herbicides have a higher risk of developing gastric cancer. Wives of pesticide applicators have been found to have a higher risk of spontaneous abortions. Pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of pesticides are also at higher risk of having a premature birth.

Additionally, women who are chronically exposed to herbicides have a higher risk for developing tumors of the central nervous system (i.e. meningiomas). Male greenhouse workers who are exposed to higher levels of pesticides on a daily basis than agricultural workers have shown lower fertility rates than unexposed workers. Men exposed to pesticides (especially organophosphate insecticides) in and around homes in agricultural areas have also shown elevated prostate cancer risks.

I have purposefully not included pest life cycles here that would generally bore most individuals who are seeking quick answers to their problems and not the details; however, if you are interested in this, there are numerous web sites that will provide you with all the detail you could possibly imagine about any given pest.

If you are unsure about what pest is bothering you, and the photographs here are not helpful enough, you can call your local extension agent, or any pest control operator where you live, and I'm sure they will be able to determine exactly what you're dealing with.

Most people are simply not aware that there is a non-toxic method that will control or at least allow you to tolerate any pest that you could possibly think of.

This information has been culled from many sources, and is at the very least a modest, generalized source that should enable you to have greater success in dealing with your particular pest problems.

Though I believe the information contained herein is accurate based on my own background and experience in pest management, I cannot vouch for or validate all of this data, as I certainly have not tested each of these methods.

The pest categories are arranged alphabetically, and include the majority of non-farm related pests that occur in homes and businesses.

This page will be updated continuously and the data added to each category as more information is received, so check back occasionally for the latest revisions.




Click on "pest" below to teleport you to controls

 

ANTS
APHIDS
BEES
BEETLES
BUGS
CATERPILLARS AND MOTHS
COCKROACHES
CRICKETS AND GRASSHOPPERS
EARWIGS
FLEAS
FLIES
LEAFHOPPERS
LICE
MEALYBUGS
MITES
MOSQUITOES
SCALES
SCORPIONS
SILVERFISH AND FIREBRATS
SPIDERS
TERMITES
THRIPS
TICKS
WASPS
WHITEFLIES



 

GENERAL

 


To attract natural enemies to your garden, try to avoid the use of pesticides, and, instead, plant a wide variety of flowering plants.

 

Keep in mind that because pesticides used outdoors are not selective, they can also reduce the beneficial insects that prey on the insect you are after which can cause a resurgence of the pest.

 

Resist the urge to use fertilizers on lawns since they may contain pesticides that can easily leach into storm drains and contaminate creeks and other waterways.

 

Pyrethrins and their various derivatives (pyrethroids, pyrethrum, and permethrin) are mentioned throughout this index as being more benign substances that can be used against insects that are bothering you.  But remember that these are still chemicals, and just because they have less pronounced effects against birds, mammals, and humans up the food chain, it certainly does not mean that they do not have a negative impact on organisms such as beneficial insects and spiders, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.  Use these substances sparingly and infrequently, and, when possible, try to use alternative methods from this index and from other “green” websites to resolve your pest management problems. Indeed, published studies have shown a link between the use of household pesticides and human diseases.


Commercially available wildflower seed mixes will help to increase the number of beneficial arthropods in turf grasses.


Ground cover plants also provide a favorable microhabitat for the survival of natural enemies.

Certain flowers such as sunflowers, marigolds, cosmos, amaranthus, and portulaca attract birds such as cardinals, finches, and sparrows that feed mainly on insects and weeds, and not on fruit or berries.

 

Planting sunflowers on organic farms will attract numerous beneficial insects which can significantly reduce pest insects in cropped fields.

Planting fennel will also attract numerous beneficial insects.

To reduce future pest problems, save seeds from resistant plants.

To encourage beneficial predaceous bugs, beetles, and spiders, use organic mulches.

To encourage beneficial parasitoids, plant early-blooming flowers such as daisies.

Interplanting with basil can reduce pests in the garden; as plants mature, leaves or flowers can then be used to make extracts that can then be used as pesticides.

Beneficial ladybugs can be attracted with plantings of black locust, crimson clover, flowering buckwheat, tansy, yarrow, and cosmos.

Beneficial wasps can be attracted by yarrow, white sweet clover, tansy, sweet fennel, sweet alyssum, spearmint, Queen Anne's lace, hairy vetch, coreopsis, rudbeckia, flowering buckwheat, cowpea, common knot wood, and caraway.

Beneficial predatory bugs prefer berseem, subterranean clover, and baby-blue-eyes.

Beneficial flies are attracted by wild buckwheat, white sweet clover, toothpick ami, sweet alyssum, soap-bark tree, Queen Anne's lace, caraway, California lilac, flowering buckwheat, Scabiosa, wild carrot, yarrow, coreopsis, coriander, cilantro, phacelia, and baby-blue-eyes.

Beneficial lacewings like tansy, Queen Anne's lace, flowering buckwheat, caraway, and cosmos.

Solutions of aspirin or salicylic acid, when added to plants, can give protection against plant pathogens and insects. Planting pansies, the shrub meadowsweet, birch, or wintergreen, provides a protective effect for the soil.

Garlic extracts can suppress plant pathogens, pest nematodes, and many other injurious insects.

Teflon barrier sprays and tape can be used on surfaces such as pet bowls, bird feeders, pipes, garbage cans, trees, etc. to discourage access to these structures.

Sprinkle black pepper on home surfaces to prevent pest access by ants, beetles, silverfish, roaches, and moths.

Mothballs in the garbage, and bay leaves in drawers and cabinets, will discourage bugs from visiting.

Fresh wormwood leaves crushed into a soggy pulp, and then mixed with some apple cider vinegar can be used externally on humans and pets as an effective insect repellent against biting flies and mosquitoes. Hang wormwood sprigs in closets to repel moths and other insects.

Use a paste made from curry powder and water to relieve the itching and inflammation of insect bites and stings. When the paste dries, the swelling and pain should disappear as well.

To make an effective insect repellent, dilute one teaspoon of eucalyptus essential oil in two cups of warm water. Apply externally to skin or use in a spray bottle to mist plants.

Marigold root extracts have shown promise for use as an alternative pesticide.

Keep in mind that no kind of packaging, except cans, is totally resistant to insect attack.

The use of greenhouse plastic films and aluminum reflective mulches that block the transmission of UV light can be used to repel insects such as whiteflies and thrips. 


If you plan on using silica gel or diatomaceous earth for your pest control needs, remember that these agents become less effective as relative humidity increases.

Coca leaves are natural insecticides.

 

Try using sodium vapor lamps or yellow-tinted lights instead of white, neon, or mercury vapor varieties to discourage insects from visiting your home, garden, or facility.  Mercury-vapor is the most attractive light form to many insects.

 




  



 

ANTS


Ants are considered to be the most successful and versatile of all insects, occurring practically everywhere, and easily outnumbering in individuals all other land animals combined.

Ants have chewing mouthparts and include predators, scavengers, and plant-eaters. Some ants also feed on nectar, honeydew, and other substances.

The red imported fire ant (pictured above left) prefers warm climates, and is very sensitive to ground vibrations. If their mound is disturbed, thousands of workers will pour out and attack anything that moves. They bite and have a painful, venomous sting.

Fire ants prefer open, sunny pastures. They do not like shade and are vulnerable to low temperatures. Indeed, sustained freezing air temperatures (about a week) will likely kill off most colonies.

 

To reduce the likelihood of fire ant mounds forming on your property, plant more shade trees, shrubs, flower gardens, and ground covers.


Fire ants prefer to nest outdoors, but can build nests in wall voids, under rugs, in boxes in the attic, and even in clothes in drawers. They also nest in logs and under sidewalks.  One colony (including the queen) was even found nesting in the pollution control canister of a frequently driven Buick Regal automobile.

 

When fire ants enter homes, they may be looking for food or water, or more likely, it may be due to flooding, which causes them to seek higher and drier ground. They will bring in soil, and stay indoors as long as there is an available moisture source, such as from a leaking water pipe.

Like other ants, fire ants are attracted to electrical devices such as transformers, televisions, air conditioners, and computers.

Fire ants will eat almost anything. One of their favorite foods is Coca Cola. They also like egg yolks, tuna fish, and grape jelly.

If fire ants are coming inside, follow the trail outside to the nest and destroy it with boiling water.

To use hot water as a mound treatment for fire ants:

Pick a sunny, but cool day when ants are near the surface.
Treat the sunny side of the mound early in the morning.
Slowly pour out about three gallons of boiling water per mound.
When pouring, try to collapse as much of the mound as possible.
Break the mound surface first if it appears hard or crusty.

Portable boilers are available commercially to treat mounds over a large area.

 

Fire ant mounds can be leveled by plowing.

 

Some evidence suggests that citrus peel extracts (orange oil) when mixed with water can provide at least 80% control against fire ants when used as a mound drench.

 

Woodstream Corporation’s Victor Poison-Free Ant & Roach Killer uses a 4% Japanese mint essential oil blend as a slowly effective knockdown treatment for fire ants.

 

Jasmine and clove oil extracts are both repellent and toxic to fire ants. Cedarwood oil is also repellant to fire ants.

 

An Auburn University study also seemed to show that the use of mint oil in the form of granules was highly repellent to fire ants.  Open mounds treated with these granules tended to be abandoned by ants within a week of exposure.  Higher granule concentrations were lethal to these ants.

 

Some studies have shown that baking soda can protect electric utility boxes from colonization from fire ants.  It does not appear to be as effective as a mound treatment, however.

Bushwhacker® is a boric acid bait registered for fire ant control.

The decapitating phorid fly (Pseudacteon spp.) is a parasitoid that has been used successfully to control fire ant populations.  Fire ants are so afraid of this fly that they have even been spotted riding piggyback (as lookouts) on their fellow ants to protect them when they are out foraging for food.

 

Phorid flies can be active at different times of the day and will attack worker ants that are of different sizes.  A single fly can stop the foraging of hundreds of workers.

 

Some studies have shown that phorid flies are attracted to fire ant colonies that have been disturbed in some way.  These disturbances may be due to aggressive interactions with other ants, predators, or humans.  There is some suggestive evidence that these flies may be attracted to the chemical cues (i.e. alarm pheromones) released by these “disturbed” ants.

Nematodes (Steinernema spp.) and parasitic mites (Pyemotes tritici) have been used with some limited success to control fire ants.

 

Some evidence suggests that the larvae and pupal stages of fire ants are more susceptible to nematode infection than adults.  Some fire ant colonies will actually abandon mounds that have been treated with nematodes which can limit their effectiveness.

The pathogenic microsporidium (Thelohania solenopsae), a protozoan, has shown some initial success in infecting fire ant colonies under controlled conditions.  It is one of the most common microorganisms found in fire ant colonies.  This organism can infect all stages of fire ants, and will weaken the queen so that eventually egg-laying will cease.

 

Super colonies of fire ants that contain multiple queens can also be controlled with the use of these microsporidia, although it may take a year or longer to eliminate entire colonies.

 

When used in combination with diatomaceous earth, this protozoan was able to induce much higher mortalities of fire ant colonies in a shorter time period than either control method alone.

 

Some evidence suggests that certain fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) could provide a sufficiently high enough infection rate to be used in fire ant control programs.

Carpenter ants (pictured above right) are larger black ants that may be found in homes foraging for proteins or sweets.  They cannot sting, but can deliver a painful bite.

 

Carpenter ants do not actually feed on wood.  They, instead, use the wood to burrow into to build their nests.  They prefer to inhabit weathered, damaged, or neglected portions of homes or structures.

 

Like fire ants, carpenter ants will eat almost anything.  Pet food is one of their favorites.

 

Like other sweet-loving ants, carpenter ants often “milk” aphids to obtain honeydew which is used to feed other colony members.  To control their populations, please browse the section under APHIDS.

 

Carpenter ant queens prefer to build colonies and nests outdoors, often in shade trees or utility poles.  They will also construct colonies in fallen logs and tree stumps.  They do, however, sometimes construct so-called “satellite” nests indoors.

 

In some areas, carpenter ants are considered to be more of a structural threat to buildings than termites.

 

Structures that are most susceptible to damage by carpenter ants are frame houses without basements, and any structures built near the edge of a forest.

 

Carpenter ants tend to be more active at night.

 

Carpenter ants prefer humid conditions, and can be found in areas of the home such as kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, and attics where these conditions exist.

 

Suspect carpenter ants if you notice what looks like pencil shavings or sawdust in areas such as closets, drawers, around electrical outlets, near baseboards, and under insulation.

 

Carpenter ants make a characteristic noise if you tap on a wood wall near their nest. Use an inverted water glass to listen in. The noise is like crumbling cellophane. 

 

To discourage carpenter ant visits:

Store foods in ant-proof containers.
Prune tree branches and vegetation away from structures.
Repair nearby damaged trees to prevent carpenter ant access.
Burn or remove tree stumps (do not bury them).
Store firewood above the ground and far away from structures.
Check firewood for ants before bringing indoors.
Keep external surfaces of homes and structures free of holes and access points.
Repair any weather-damaged areas of structures which also attract ants.
Treat wall voids with borates or desiccants to keep out ants.

 

Additionally, it would be helpful to repair any water leaks around the home, be sure gutters aren’t clogged to allow for good drainage, improve ventilation in susceptible areas such as attics and basements, and seal up areas where wiring enters structures.

 

Use borates to make wood toxic to carpenter ants indoors. For a more thorough discussion of borate control for carpenter ants, please see the section under TERMITES.

 

Large outdoor nests can be treated with less toxic pyrethroid insecticides such as beta-cyfluthrin (e.g. Tempo®).

 

Portable vacuums such as Bon-Aire Industries, Inc. Bon-Aire “SuperVac”® Canister vacuum are available commercially to help collect entire colonies of these ants.

 

For larger indoor carpenter ant infestations, Isothermics, Inc. Heatwave® utilizes directed hot air through flexible ducts into a structure by means of special forced-air systems with the object of heating wood to at least 130 ° F., the lethal temperature for most insects.

A 0.5 - 1% boric acid/sugar water solution (10 - 25% sucrose) is an effective control bait against most sweet-loving ants including the pharaoh, carpenter, argentine, and fire ant. Patience will be necessary when using this method, as it may take up to several months to obtain 100% control of these colonies.  These baits are available commercially under brand names such as Drax Liquidator®, and Advance Liquid Bait®.

 

Use Maxforce® gel bait stations to control indoor carpenter ant infestations.

Baits that work slowly (e.g. boric acid or borax) are more likely to eliminate queens as well as workers.

 

Cookie crumbs and peanut butter have been used successfully as excellent bait sources for sweet-loving ants.

 

Pavement ants can be controlled with a 5% boric acid solution mixed with equal parts of peanut butter and Crisco™ cooking oil.

 

Argentine ants and the odorous house ant seem to be particularly sensitive to cedar.  Argentine ants, in particular, seem to avoid cedar mulch as a nesting substrate. Using cedar mulches around the home and garden may help repel these ants from your area. 

 

In colder months, Argentine ant colonies can often be found in compost piles and decomposing vegetation, but are not typically active if temperatures drop below 50° F.  Eliminating these harborages can help reduce their numbers around your home or facility.

 

In California, Argentine ants prefer bait traps that use anchovies as the main attractant.

 

Peppermint, tea tree, lemon, basil, and citronella oils have all been used as repellents against argentine ants.

 

In temperate climates, pharaoh ants actually prefer to nest inside homes or facilities, and workers may search for food outdoors. In the tropics, or in areas where warmer temperatures are maintained, nests are established outdoors.

Indoors, pharaoh ants are most commonly found foraging around windows.  This is partially due to their fondness for dead insects that are often found on window sills which serve as a food source for the colony.  Keeping this area clean will help reduce their numbers and prevent them from needing an excuse to explore other areas of your home for food.

 

Drax® is an ant bait that is composed of boric acid and mint jelly that is very effective against pharaoh ants.


Insecticide sprays alone are not effective in reducing or controlling most ant populations.

To discourage ants (in general) from visiting your home or facility:

Wrap garbage cans and recycling containers with Teflon tape or some other barrier.
Caulk and seal crack-and-crevice entry points.
Store unrefrigerated foods in metal cans or jars with tight-fitting rubber seals.
Keep the kitchen as clean and dry as possible and free of even tiny food scraps.
Smear a thin layer of Vaseline or sticky tape around the edges of pet bowls.
Use soapy water and bleach to eliminate ant trail odors.
Vacuum frequently to remove ants and their trail odors.
Weather-strip windows and doors to prevent access.
Use baits rather than insecticides if colonies become established.

There are ants that invade homes that will actually feed on and carry off the soap left in your soap dish, and on the mildew and fungus that you might ignore on your bathtub. You may want to consider switching to liquid soap or use an ant-proof soapbox if you are unfortunate enough (like I have been) to encounter these ants. Keeping a clean bathroom will prevent the appearance of mildew-loving ants.

Many sweet-loving ants can easily penetrate plastic packaging including tough shrink-wrap to get to food (I can tell you this from experience), and can easily squeeze into grooves between metal screw top jar lids and glass.  Refrigerate foods that come in plastic packages (e.g. pasta, candy) and/or use jars with rubber seals to protect your food from these ants.

Some ants may try to nest in your potted plants. Fill the overflow tray with some soapy water to keep them away.

Cloves, dried coffee grounds, and pepper repel ants.

Mix two parts borax with one part sugar for a lethal ant poison.

Boric acid powder can be applied as a crack and crevice treatment against most ants.

 

Many ant species are attracted to electrical power sources. Smear a thin layer of Vaseline around electrical outlets to prevent ant access into your home or facility.

 

Ants will not cross certain physical barriers such as chalk and Vaseline.

 

Ant guards are also available commercially to protect electrical outlets, plumbing, furniture, pet bowls, etc. to prevent ants from gaining access to homes and other items.


Dorsey Inc. (Shellshock®) is a registered desiccant made up of 85% diatomaceous earth and comes in a squeeze dust applicator, but is generally slower acting as an ant control treatment (six weeks or more).

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel most ants and deny harborage in these areas.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home and garden use for ant control.

Try soap sprays with citrus oil to control ants.

Garlic sprays have also been shown to be effective against ants.

 

Sprinkle garlic powder along windowsills, and as a crack and crevice treatment to discourage ants from entering your home or facility.

Ants can be excluded from shrubs and trees by spraying or painting a 4" wide band of sticky adhesive around the stem or trunk.

Leaf-cutter ants can be repelled by the use of basil oil compounds.

 

Leaf-cutter ants like Kelloggs® cornflakes. They build their fungus gardens on them.

Squeeze lemon juice on surfaces to prevent access by ants.

 

Catnip oil has been shown to be repellent to fire ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants.

Pyrethrin can be used in combination with silica gel or diatomaceous earth as an effective indoors ant repellent.



 



APHIDS


Aphids, also called plant lice or greenbugs, are a large group of small, soft-bodied insects that are often found in large numbers sucking the sap from the leaves or stems of plants.

Enormous populations of aphids can be built up in a very short time due to the very high reproductive potential of these insects.

Aphids can also transmit viruses to plants, which can cause disease in fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, bananas, papayas, passion fruit, and melons, and in many vegetables as well such as onions, cauliflower, green peppers, cucumbers, alfalfa, and potatoes. Grains such as barley and wheat are also targeted by aphids.

Certain ants have a tendency to protect aphids from their natural enemies due to their desire to "milk" them of sweet secretions, which nourish colony members. To reduce ant numbers, you might consider using a bait station in these circumstances. For more information about these baits, see the section above under
ANTS.

Aphids can be controlled by the following insect predators, which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Convergent Lady Beetle (Ladybug) (Hippodamia convergens)

Predatory Lady Beetle (Various spp.)
Lacewing (Chrysoperla spp.)
Chinese Preying Mantis (Tenodera sinensis)
Predatory Anthocorid (Pirate) Bugs (Orius spp.)
Aphid Midge (Aphidoletes aphidimyza)
Mirid Bug (Deraeocoris brevis)

Predatory Mites (Various spp.)

Parasitoid Wasps (Various spp.)


Although ladybugs are excellent voracious aphid predators, keep in mind that they have a natural tendency to disperse, and for this reason are generally not recommended for use in gardens; however, they can be used successfully in indoor environments such as greenhouses.

 

Ladybugs can be used more successfully for control purposes when aphid densities on plants are very high and localized.  Ladybugs are limited in their ability to search out and detect aphids and other prey over larger distances.  It is recommended that they be released during the evening because bright sunlight can encourage their flight.

Lacewing larvae are more cost effective as predators, and will consume aphids and other pests as efficiently as ladybugs.

Spraying a solution of one part sugar with ten parts water onto aphid-susceptible plants will encourage the arrival of beneficial insects.

Oils sprayed as an emulsion in water can be an effective control against aphids. Fish, petroleum, or vegetable oils can be used.

A 2% emulsion of basil, avocado, or clove oil can also be used to repel aphids.

 

Lavender, marjoram, catnip, and rosemary oils are also toxic to aphids.

Cinnamon oil (e.g. Cinnacure®) sprays have shown some success in controlling aphid populations.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin will provide a rapid knockdown effect against aphids.

 

Brazilian and Chilean studies indicate that essential oils from star anise and lemongrass are effective as repellents against aphids.

For aphid infestations, use soap or oil sprays for knockdown, then release natural enemies. Soaps and oils must be sprayed directly on aphids to be effective. Apply once a week in warm weather, and every two weeks when it is cooler.

Avoid feeding plants nitrogen fertilizer which encourages plant growth and aphids to reproduce.

Cover fruits and vegetables in garden beds with finely spun row cover material sold at garden centers; these serve as a barrier to aphids and other insects (not recommended for use in high temperatures because of the increased ground temperature and humidity).

A more convenient method to remove aphids is to hose down plants with tap water three times a week for about 30 seconds each time early in the day so that leaves dry before nightfall.

Garlic sprays and hot pepper wax have been used to repel aphids.

Diatomaceous earth can be used as a desiccant control for aphids.

 

Neem tree extract sprays can be an effective control against aphids as well; however, some studies have shown that non-target organisms such as beneficial predatory insects, parasitoids, spiders, and aquatic invertebrates may be negatively impacted as well.

Earwigs are effective night predators of aphids.

Blend eight tomato leaves and two cups of water for another effective spray for aphid control.

Blending garlic with peppercorns has also been used effectively in spray formulations to repel aphids.

Ground beetles will also consume aphids that have dropped off leaves due to predation pressures by ladybugs and lacewings.

Sticky traps, tapes, and adhesives can be used to control and repel aphids.

Various fungi (e.g.
Metarhizium anisopliae) can be purchased commercially and used as microbial insecticides to control aphids both in the garden and in greenhouses. Keep in mind that the rate of growth of fungal germination is slower at lower temperatures. Also, some targeted aphid species may just be more susceptible to fungal strains than others.

 

The European corporation, Koppert, produces and distributes a fungal strain (i.e. Verticillium lecanii) (Vertalec®) for aphid control.

Sabadilla powder is toxic to aphids.

 

The use of reflective mulches can significantly reduce the number of aphids appearing on many vegetable crops.

 

Greenhouse experiments have shown that soil growth mediums made from food waste (vermicomposts) were effective in reducing pest outbreaks of aphids.  Plants were less attractive to aphids and reduced their reproductive rates as well.






 

BEES


Honeybees, bumblebees, and other bees are valuable beneficial insects that are responsible for the pollination of numerous flowers and crops. Most of our vegetables, fruits, and nuts are pollinated by bees.

 

The number of honeybee colonies in the U.S. and around the world has declined, and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the widespread use of pesticides is at least partially to blame. A syndrome labeled ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ has been described for colonies that have perished due to large numbers of honeybees on foraging trips for pollen and nectar who become stressed and disoriented and are unable to find their way back to the hive.

 

Beekeepers should avoid the use of toxic miticides and use non-chemical methods to control mites in hives (See the section under MITES).

 

Africanized or "killer" bees are also honeybees, but are more aggressive, and can be dangerous to both humans and animals when threatened.

To lessen your exposure to "killer" bees:

Avoid wearing perfumes and other sweet-smelling products.
Bees may feel threatened by bright or dark colored clothing.
Loud noises and shiny jewelry may also be perceived as threats.
These bees are sensitive to vibrations such as from power equipment.
Bees only attack when they believe the colony is threatened.
The hive itself need not be disturbed for bees to attack.
Some colonies may attack any threat within 100 feet of the hive.
Disturbed colonies may remain agitated for up to 24 hours.
Bees will typically attack the head and ankles.
If attacked, cover your head and run away in a straight line.
Don't hide underwater, as bees may wait for you to surface.
A swarm may pursue you up to a quarter of a mile.
Bees are slow fliers, so you may be able to outrun them.

 

Tobacco, garlic, parsley, and holy basil can all be used to repel honey bees if necessary.




  



 

BEETLES


Beetles comprise the largest group of insects and contain about 40% of all known species.

Beetles have chewing mouthparts and include predators, plant-eaters, parasites, and scavengers.

 

Beetles can also transmit viruses to plants which can cause disease in some crops such a soybeans.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel beetles and deny harborage in these areas.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home and garden use for beetle control.

Neem tree extract sprays can be used as well to effectively suppress beetle and weevil populations.

The Japanese beetle (pictured above center), is one of the most widespread and destructive pest of turf and landscape plants in the United States. 

 

Adult Japanese beetles can feed on over 300 varieties of wild and cultivated plants, and are generally more difficult to control because they are highly mobile. In contrast, the egg and early grub stages are particularly sensitive to moisture and temperature extremes, including desiccation.

 

Grubs are the larval form of various beetles which can sometimes cause heavy damage to the roots of turf grasses which they feed on.  Infested turf may appear to be gray or off color in appearance.  Turf may also feel spongy when walked on due to tunneling by these grubs.  After the roots have been consumed, sections of turf can be actually rolled up like a carpet.

 

During the summer, when Japanese beetles lay eggs in the soil, letting the grass grow a little longer, and reducing watering of the turf, can also help decrease egg laying by adult females.

 

Some evidence suggests that plowing fields can reduce adult and larval beetle populations in some row crops such as blueberries.

 

Sticky traps and tapes can be used to control Japanese beetle adults on lawns.

 

Pheromone traps have been used to attract large numbers of adult Japanese beetles on golf courses, but these products are not yet available commercially.

Canola oil and neem have been used as feeding deterrents against the Japanese beetle.

 

Peppermint, ginger, and wintergreen oils can also be effective in reducing beetle populations.

                                                                                                                                              

Parasitic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.) can infect and reduce the number of white grubs and adults of the Japanese beetle.  Some nematodes simply chase after their victim, while others will actually stand on their tails and leap onto their prey as they pass by. Applying nematodes in August or September will provide the most effective control of grubs.

 

Some bacterial pathogens (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) are highly toxic to Japanese beetle grubs in turf.  Bacillus thuringiensis has also been found to be toxic to some weevil larvae (e.g. Diaprepes abbreviatus).

 

Some species of fungi (e.g. Metarhizium spp. and Beauveria bassiana) can also infect Japanese beetle larvae, boll weevil adults, and the white grubs of other scarab beetles.

 

Neem extracts have also been shown to be harmful to Japanese beetle larvae by disrupting their ability to develop into adults.


Use borates to make wood toxic to wood boring beetles. Borates are most effective against the larval (grub) stage of these beetles.

For a more thorough discussion of borate control for wood boring beetles, please see the section under
TERMITES.

 

Keep in mind that firewood that you bring into your home can be infested with wood-boring beetles. One Michigan survey found about 23% of a sample of about 1,000 pieces of firewood to be infested with various species including powder-post beetles, weevils, metallic wood-boring beetles, and bark beetles.

The Colorado potato beetle prefers to feed on solanaceous crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

 

Avoid feeding plants nitrogen which encourages these beetles to reproduce.

 

A 2% emulsion of basil or avocado oil can be used to repel the Colorado potato beetle.

 

Black pepper, hops, pennyroyal, and neem extracts have also been used to control these beetles.

 

Some studies have shown that catnip oil will stop Colorado potato beetles from feeding.

 

Evidence from Poland suggests that the common tansy plant is an effective repellent against these beetles.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema feltiae) have had some success in reducing larval populations of potato beetles.

 

The use of straw mulch in fields significantly reduced damage by these beetles by attracting beneficial insects that prey on them such as ladybird beetles, lacewings, and stink bugs.

 

Studies from Turkey suggest that the use of organic soils (e.g. manure-based) reduced the growth and development rates of potato beetles compared to synthetically fertilized soils.

 

Plastic V-shaped trenches have been used successfully to trap these beetles.

The predatory stink bug (Perillus bioculatus) and the spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris) can be purchased commercially to control the Colorado potato beetle.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. novaluron, hexaflumuron) have shown some promise in the control of Colorado potato beetle larvae.  There is evidence to suggest, however, that non-target organisms such as the spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris) can be adversely impacted by this type of control.  The soldier bug is a predator that typically feeds on potato beetles.

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana) have also been used in potato fields to help control the Colorado potato beetle.

 

Turkish studies have shown that selected bacteria (e.g. Bacillus pumilus and B. sphaericus) are effective control agents of Colorado potato beetle larvae.

 

Iranian studies suggest that younger Colorado potato beetle larvae are more susceptible to Bacillus thuringiensis bacterial infection than older instars.

 

Some evidence suggests that adult potato beetles can be attracted to objects such as paper boards or large beads that are colored with yellow and black stripes, or to those objects with yellow and light-green patterns.

June beetles prefer to lay eggs on golf courses, pastures, and fields that have been treated with organic covers and fertilizers such as manures, compost, and hay. Their grubs feed on the organic matter at the base of grass roots and are fond of short, mowed grasses.

Keep in mind that most damage associated with grubs is actually caused by raccoons, skunks, and other animals, which often dig up lawns to feed on grubs.

 

The larvae of robber flies (Promachus yesonicus) have been used with success in China to control white grubs in wheat fields.

 

On Korean golf courses, the use of entomopathogenic nematodes in combination with the fungus, Beauveria brongniartii, provided good biological control over white grubs in the soil.


Carpet beetle larvae (adult pictured above right) will eat just about anything including carpets, grain, skin, and even other insects.  The adults do not cause damage to fibers and foods in your home (they feed on pollen and nectar), are attracted to lights, and often access homes through unscreened windows.

 

Because adult beetles are highly attracted to light sources, they can often be found (often dead) at the base of lamp fixtures inside your house that are closest to windows.  If you happen to use compact fluorescent bulbs, you may see them accumulate on the flattened-out base of these bulbs. This can happen despite window screening due to holes in screens or areas where the screening may not join the window frame precisely.

 

To discourage their visits, check and repair or replace your screening first, and then try moving bright light sources away from windows.  You can also try using low-intensity bulbs, but be sure to check window sills and around lamp bases to see if they are still getting in.  Keep in mind that porch and patio lights that are kept on in the evening will also attract adult beetles to your home.

 

Frequent vacuuming of carpets will keep carpet beetle populations low.  If you have a severe infestation, steam cleaning your carpets may be needed.

 

If you notice damaged clothing, it may be best to just trash them due to possible infestation from eggs and larvae.  Washing infested clothes, and then drying them in a clothes dryer (run at high temperature for at least 30 minutes) will eliminate carpet beetle eggs and larvae.

 

Carpet beetle larvae will also feed on grains that can found in items such as boxed cereals.  Be sure to check these food sources and discard if they are infested.  It is best to store cereal boxes and other grains either in tight fitting jars or in the refrigerator to protect them from larvae.


Boric acid powder can be used as a treatment against carpet beetles.

Low temperatures will also keep carpet beetle populations suppressed.

Cedar wood and cedar oil vapor will repel carpet beetles.

 

Some studies out of Korea have indicated that sweet fennel and clove oil extracts can be used as effective repellents against carpet beetles.

Cover fruits and vegetables in garden beds with finely-spun row cover material sold at garden centers; these serve as a barrier to plant-eating beetles and other insects (not recommended for use in high temperatures because of the increased ground temperature and humidity).

Garlic sprays have also been shown to be effective beetle repellents.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin can be an effective control against some plant-eating beetles.

Some beetles and weevils (e.g. grain weevil pictured above left) that infest grain storage facilities and processing plants may also show up occasionally in your packaged beans, seeds, cereal, rice, and pasta products that you bring home from your local grocery store.  These insects do not bite or sting, and will not have the ability to transmit any diseases to humans.

 

To prevent these insects from becoming your roommates, pay attention to packaged grain products and pet food bags that you purchase at your local store for any evidence of infestation.  Beetles and weevils often invade grains if the plastic packaging has been damaged in some way, allowing them access.  If you happen to notice small, brown, cylindrical objects floating in your pot of boiling water containing noodles or rice, these would be them.

 

In grocery stores, stored product insects seem to prefer to congregate in pet food areas.

 

Store grains in sealed glass or metal containers or just refrigerate them.  This will also discourage ants from feeding on them also.  Adding a bay leaf to each container or canister will help repel these insects as well.

 

Diatomaceous earth and silica gel can both be used safely to disinfest storage bins from grain weevils and other insects such as flour and grain beetles.

 

High temperatures and cold storage are used by many food service companies to minimize damage from stored product insects.

 

Neem has been shown to be very successful in reducing populations of insects that infest stored grain such as bean or rice weevils, red flour beetles, and grain beetles. Combining diatomaceous earth with neem along with grain movement (gentle tumbling) can help to enhance the effectiveness.

 

Eucalyptus, garlic, basil, cashew, guava, boldo, ginger, water hyacinth, neem, lavender, fennel, mint, peppermint, bay laurel, lemongrass, lemon verbena, cumin, myrtle, cardamom, black pepper, catmint, nutmeg, star anise, celery, origanum, pennyroyal, thyme, pepper tree, marigold, turmeric, and citrus (e.g. lime and orange peel) oil extracts have all shown insecticidal and/or repellant properties against some storage insects such as the red flour beetle, the rice weevil, the maize weevil, the wheat weevil, the larger grain borer, and the lesser grain borer.

 

Eugenol and camphor, essential oils found in basil and some other plants, have been shown to be toxic to some stored product insects such as grain and rice weevils and red flour beetles.

 

Indian studies suggest that egg white proteins can be used as effective repellants against the red flour beetle.

 

Some vegetable oils (e.g. mustard oil, corn oil) have been used in India as grain protectants to suppress rice weevils and the lesser grain borer.

 

Nutmeg oil has also been used as a grain fumigant against the red flour beetle. In fact, nutmeg oil has caused some beetles and grubs to just stop feeding.

 

Cinnamaldehyde, an extract of the spice, cinnamon, a common food flavoring, has shown some effectiveness as a fumigant against the red flour beetle and some weevils (e.g. rice weevil).

 

Sugar apple extracts or leaf powder is also effective against the red flour beetle and maize weevil.

 

Essential oils of anise, clove, cumin, oregano, palm, tree of heaven, turmeric, catnip, mugwort, fenugreek, garlic, rosemary, rue, sage, and sweet flag have all shown varying levels of toxicity against some stored product insects.

 

Black pepper seed powder is toxic to the lesser grain borer and grain weevils.

 

Pea flour has also been shown to be toxic when used in storage bins against some weevils (e.g. rice weevil), the rusty grain beetle, and red flour beetles.

 

In India, experiments have shown that red flour beetles are also susceptible to plant extracts from marigold (Tagetes sp.).  

 

The warehouse pirate bug, Xylocoris flavipes, is an effective predator and control agent against stored product insects such as the red flour beetle.

 

Pyrethrum, a botanical derived from Chrysanthemum flowers is effective against some stored product insects. There is some evidence, however, to suggest that they are also becoming increasingly resistant to the use of pyrethroids.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae) have also been used with some success in biocontrol programs against insects such as grain borers.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema spp.) have been used to control certain storage bin insects such as grain and flour beetles.

 

Gaseous ozone (Oȝ) has shown promise in the control of many insects in stored grain. Some weevils and grain borers that are protected within kernels may require higher concentrations (e.g. >100 ppm) and longer treatment times (e.g. 8 days).

 

Microwave irradiation treatments have been used to induce beetle and weevil storage insect mortality in experiments in Canada and China.




 



BUGS


"Bugs" belong to a specific family of insects (Heteroptera) and can be identified by characteristics similar to the assassin bug (pictured above left) or the bed bug (pictured above right).

Bugs are a large group whose members have piercing mouthparts and include predators, parasites, and plant-eaters.

The triatomine assassin bug (also called the “kissing” bug) is a vector of Chagas disease in humans.  These bugs may carry a parasite called a trypanosome in their blood, which can sometimes transmit this disease to humans and animals.

 

Chagas disease is transmitted to humans through the bugs’ feces, which is sometimes inconveniently left behind by the bug during or after feeding.  If the contaminated feces enter the bloodstream of the host through the bite, then the host can become infected.  Infection can also occur if food or water is consumed that harbors the parasites.

 

Triatomine bugs feed on blood, and live in or near homes where they hide during the day in shaded areas such as cracks or crevices, under beds, etc.  They become active at night, searching for a warm-blooded host, and are attracted to artificial lights.

 

During the day, these bugs prefer shelters that provide them with very high temperatures and very low humidities.

 

Brazilian studies have shown that these bugs prefer to hide during the day in roofing materials (i.e. roofing tiles) used in the construction of domestic animal shelters (e.g. goat/sheep corrals, henhouses, and pigpens).

 

Homes with dirt floors may be more at risk for infestation based on rural Mexican findings.

 

Studies out of the Ecuadorian Amazon seem to indicate that the susceptibility to being bitten by one of these bugs increases if you live in a house with a thatched roof or if the walls are open to the outside, or are of mixed construction materials.

                                                                                                                                              

Brazilian studies have concluded that house proximity to wooded or forested areas also increases risk of infestation.

 

Triatomine bugs prefer to feed on animals that people tend to domesticate such as rodents, cats, dogs, chickens and other birds, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, horses, and cows.  They also can be found among wild animals including nest-building mammals and birds.

 

Among these animals, chickens seem to be one of their favorites, as they often seek refuge in chicken coops. Some evidence suggests that homes or other buildings that are built nearby (within 40 feet) are more susceptible to being invaded by them.

 

Some evidence from Argentina suggests that your odds of being bitten by one of these bugs increases significantly with the number of dogs, cats, or chickens that are in the same house with you.

 

Studies from Mexico and Costa Rica suggest that the abundance of rodents (e.g. squirrels) and opossums may also be important in the persistence of these bugs due to their ability to become infected and their proximity to humans when they search for food in homes.

 

Like other blood-feeding insects, triatomine bugs seem to be attracted to the CO2 exhalations from human and animal breath.

 

Because these bugs are attracted to CO2, traps baited with yeast have had some success in capturing these insects in experiments done in Argentina.  Yeast cultures produce CO2 as a byproduct of their metabolism.

 

Columbian studies also suggest that facial skin odors (e.g. compared to hand odors) were more attractive to triatomines.

 

Deforestation and immigration have been associated with an increase in the transmission rates of Chagas disease.

 

Some evidence out of Argentina suggests that black light traps installed in infested villages can also be used as attractants to monitor the abundance of populations of these bugs.

 

Bed nets impregnated with the pyrethroid, deltamethrin, have also shown some success in reducing exposure to these assassin bugs.  Studies from Venezuela and Bolivia also confirmed that the use of pyrethroid-impregnated curtains in houses dramatically reduced their numbers. Resistance has been detected in field populations in Argentina due to its increased usage, however.

 

In Peru, impregnated nets have also been used to protect animal enclosures and help reduce the spread of infection.

 

Evidence suggests that triatomine bugs that vector Chagas disease are also repelled by Deet®.

 

Some studies have shown that assassin bug nymphs are susceptible to pathogenic fungi (e.g. Evlachovaea sp., Gliocadium virens, Metarhizium anisopliae, and Beauveria bassiana).  Daily high humidities seem to be an important factor when applications are made to more effectively control populations.

 

Brazilian studies have revealed that when using fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae in drier environments, the addition of diatomaceous earth and vegetable oil can be more effective against these nymphs.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. triflumuron) have shown some promise in inhibiting the development of assassin bug nymphs.

 

Some preliminary evidence out of Brazil suggests that root extracts from muskwood (Guarea guidonia) showed positive mortality results against assassin bug adults.

 

Brazilian studies also suggest that fumigation with eucalyptus oil was effective in producing 100% mortality against assassin bug nymphs.

An Argentine study suggests that extracts from sage (i.e. Salvia gilliessi) may inhibit the progression in cell cultures of parasites that cause Chagas disease. Argentine studies have also shown that peppertree extracts (i.e. Schinus molle) are good repellents against assassin bug nymphs.

 

Citronella oil has shown repellency against feeding Triatoma assassin bug adults. A mixture of geraniol and citronellol, compounds found in citronella, are especially effective.


Bugs (in the garden) can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Mirid Bug (Deraeocoris brevis)
Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris)
Parasitoid Wasps (Various spp.)


Bed bugs (pictured above right) are flattened wingless insects that hide during the day along cracks and crevices in beds, mattresses, furniture, walls, and floors.  They have also been found behind wallpaper and electrical outlets.  They come out only late at night, or in the early morning hours to feed on blood of their preferred host which is humans.  If they don’t bite, they cannot reproduce.

 

Suspect you have bed bugs if you notice reddish brown or black droppings or streaks (dried blood) along mattress seams, in wall cracks, etc.  You also may notice clusters of eggs or egg cases glued to these surfaces.

 

Some heavy infestations have produced odors resembling the smell of fresh raspberries, but this is not always the case.

 

Bed bugs are attracted to humans by heat, body odors such as from sweat, and expired breath (CO2). Of these, expired breath seems to be the most important attractant based on most studies. Keep in mind that bedbugs cannot detect a host at a distance of more than about 5 feet.

 

Like mosquitoes, bed bugs are repelled by air movement and can be flushed out of hiding places with forced air.  They also avoid the light, so a flashlight can be used to search for them. They can climb walls and cling to ceilings, but they cannot jump or fly.

 

Bed bugs tend to bite in areas around the face, neck, and arms.  Although they could theoretically vector disease due to their life history, they are not known to transmit diseases to humans. 

 

Bed bugs may take up to 12 minutes to fully engorge themselves. After feeding, a bed bug may not feed again for another week or more, but can live more than a year without feeding.

 

Bed bugs infestations tend to be highest where people are crowded together in specific areas such as in dormitories, hostels, hotels, fraternities, apartments, rooming houses, homeless shelters, and refugee camps.  They are spread primarily by humans, and are also becoming more common due to increased global traveling by people in general. Unchecked, large infestations of bed bugs can induce severe anemia in humans.

 

To reduce your home exposure to bed bugs:

Launder clothing and sleepwear regularly to remove trapped bed bugs.
Discard ripped or torn mattresses.
Steam clean beds and bedding.
Vacuum, steam clean, or replace carpets.
Seal cracks in floors and walls.

Replace or de-infest wooden furniture.
Replace or de-infest floorboards, baseboards, and wooden trim.

 

Indoor foggers (i.e. bug bombs) are generally ineffective as bed bug control agents. In residences and other settings, most bed bugs will be able to hide in protected areas where they will not be directly contacted by the insecticide mist from foggers. Additionally, many bed bugs are resistant to pyrethroids, which are the chemicals often used in these foggers.

 

Ultrasound is also not effective in repelling bed bugs.

 

Ultralow oxygen treatments can be an effective way to control bed bugs. This method involves flushing sealed rooms with nitrogen. Higher temperatures (e.g. 86º), and increased treatment times (e.g. 8 hrs), can provide 100% mortality of bed bug adults and nymphs, and about 98% control of bed bug eggs.

 

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel bed bugs and deny harborage in these areas. In lab tests, diatomaceous earth can provide 100% mortality of bed bugs in about 5 or 6 days. These dusts can be applied to beds, box springs, mattress covers, and under carpets where bed bugs crawl. With contact, bed bugs quickly lose water, dehydrate, and die.

 

Rooms with bed bug infestations can be treated with heat treatments (i.e. space heaters) which can induce mortality in all stages including the eggs at 115º F after about 10 minutes.

 

Commercial garment steamers (e.g. The Jiffy® Steamer J-4000) can be directed into mattresses and other areas to provide 165º heat which causes about 90% bed bug mite mortality.

 

Bed bugs do occasionally attach themselves to clothing or linen. Washing clothes in hot water or tumble-drying clothes at high temperatures for about 30 minutes is sufficient to remove all stages of bed bugs. Dry cleaning clothes will also effectively eliminate them.

 

Bed bugs can survive long periods of below freezing temperatures; however, about fifteen minutes of exposure to a temperature of about -26° F will kill all stages including eggs.  Infested items can be bagged and then placed in a household freezer (at 0º F) for a minimum period of about 3½ days to kill all stages (the bagging helps protect the items against moisture damage).

 

Liquid nitrogen has been used as an effective extreme cold treatment to freeze bed bugs (at -320º F) and other pests. It can penetrate pillows and carpets to kill bed bugs. European hotel owners often use this method to treat rooms before they are reused.

 

Because CO2 has been shown in most studies to be the most effective attractant for bed bugs, dry ice traps, which emit CO2, can be used to attract bed bugs away from their hiding places. These traps are a cheap and effective method to determine whether areas are infested. Dry ice can also be used to disinfest personal items in thermal containers.

 

You can place infested mattress covers and other fabrics inside of a plastic garbage bag (or a zippered plastic bag), place dry ice inside the bag, and then seal it tightly to ensure little air can escape. About 2 or 3 pounds of dry ice per garbage bag should provide 100% bed bug mortality within 24 hours. This method can also be used to disinfest other items such as pillows, chair and sofa cushions, books, plush toys, electronics, etc.

 

Bed bug CO2 traps (e.g. BioSensory’s Nightwatch™) can also be purchased commercially for indoor use. The Verifi™ bed bug detector combines CO2 generation and pheromones to lure bed bugs to pitfall traps. Some studies seem to suggest that carbon dioxide and the use of other lures (e.g. spearmint) may have an additive effect on bed bug captures.

 

Because bed bugs cannot fly, they typically crawl up bedposts or legs that have contact with the floor to reach their sleeping hosts. A thin layer of Vaseline can be applied around the legs to prevent access. Be sure the bed itself, including any decorative headboards, does not directly contact any wall surfaces. Any bedding items such as blankets, clothes, etc. should not come into direct contact with the floor. Mattresses that are simply left on the floor to sleep on, or platform beds that expose more floor surface area to crawling bed bugs, will be more easily accessed by bed bugs.

 

Zippered mattress and box spring covers can be purchased and used to protect beds from exposure to bed bugs.  Keep in mind that not all mattress covers are alike.  Small holes near zippers, for example, may still allow for larval bed bug access.  Mattress Safe LLC is an example of a company that markets covers that are “certified” to be bed bug resistant.

 

Studies suggest that Deet® can be an effective repellant against bed bugs. At 25% concentration, fabrics treated with Deet® remained repellant from bed bugs for about 14 days.

Boric acid (20%) can also be used to treat cracks and crevices for bed bug control.

 

Some studies have suggested that octenol, spearmint and coriander oils can be used to attract bed bugs to traps.

 

In Tanzanian villages, bed nets treated with pyrethroids have been used to control infestations of bed bugs; however, resistance can become more prevalent with their increased use.

 

The use of the fungal strain Beauveria bassiana has had some success in controlling bed bugs.

 

When properly trained, bed bug-sniffing dogs have been very successful (about 90% effective) at locating infestations within structures such as homes and hotels, and are much less prone to errors compared to humans when performing inspections.  Dogs can detect live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs as well.


Use soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin to reduce plant bug populations.

Garlic and neem tree extract sprays have also been used with success against plant bugs.

Cover fruits and vegetables in garden beds with finely-spun row cover material sold at garden centers; these serve as a barrier to plant-eating bugs and other insects (not recommended for use in high temperatures because of the increased ground temperature and humidity).



 



CATERPILLARS AND MOTHS


Moths (like butterflies) are common insects which can be recognized by scales on their wings which come off like dust when handled.

Caterpillars are the immature or larval stage of the adults.  They are mostly plant-feeders, but also can feed on fabrics and food. Some are also predaceous on other insects.

Clothes moths (pictured above left) are small (about 1/2 inch) moths that may be seen fluttering about in closets or over fabrics. They do not damage clothing, and, in fact, are not known to feed at all.

Their caterpillars (also pictured above left) are the problem, as they feed mainly on wool, silk, furs, and other animal products such as feathers, hair, and leather.  They have been found in unusual locations such as in abandoned owl nests.  They cannot consume synthetic fibers such as polyester.

Clothing which is left undisturbed for some time, or stored in dark, exposed places (like closets), are most susceptible to injury by these caterpillars.

To de-infest clothing, thoroughly brush, shake, and hang clothing outdoors in the bright sun for several hours before bringing them back indoors.

Brushing and shaking removes eggs. Larvae are repelled by sunlight, and will fall off of clothing if exposed long enough.

To lessen your home exposure to clothes moths:

Store susceptible garments in hole-free plastic storage bags or airtight chests.
Be sure clothing is free of all eggs and larvae before storing.
Pest-free fabrics stored in areas below 45
° F. will be free of damage.
Dry clean wool or other sensitive garments to remove larvae.
Laundering less sensitive clothing in hot water will also remove larvae.
Dust and vacuum frequently in closets and other remote areas.

Woolen fabrics stored in attics that are regularly exposed to temperatures above 100
° F. for many hours during the day can be protected from damage by clothes moths.

 

Keep in mind that soiled or dirty fabrics are more susceptible to attack than clean ones.

 

Lemon verbena, French marigold, coriander, southernwood, lavender, wormwood, whole cloves, cedar wood, and cedar oil vapors can be effective repellents against clothes moths.

Lowering room temperatures will also discourage clothes moths.

 

Neem extracts have been shown to reduce feeding responses and survival of clothes moth larvae.

 

Dry ice can be used as a fumigant against clothes moths.

Leaf-feeding caterpillars (e.g. pictured above right) can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)
Chinese Preying Mantis (Tenodera sinensis)
Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris)
Parasitoid Egg Wasp (Trichogramma spp.)
Mirid Bug (Deraeocoris brevis)


Hot pepper wax has been shown to be an effective repellent against leaf miners.

Garlic, black pepper, and neem tree extract sprays have been used effectively to control larvae and adults.

 

Spiders and ground beetles in the garden will discourage the appearance of leaf miners and other caterpillars.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used in the garden to suppress caterpillars.

The use of soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin can be used to repel caterpillars.

Fish, petroleum, and vegetable oils have all been shown to be effective deterrents against caterpillars.

Sweet and holy basil plants in the garden will also discourage the appearance of caterpillars.

Cover fruits and vegetables in garden beds with finely spun row cover material sold at garden centers; these serve as a barrier to caterpillars and other insects (not recommended for use in high temperatures because of the increased ground temperature and humidity).

Sticky traps, tapes, and tree wraps can be used to control and repel caterpillars.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. tebufenozide) have been used successfully to control caterpillars worldwide. They work by preventing the larvae from molting, but may take several weeks before maximum control is attained.

 

Predatory mites (e.g. Euseius spp.) that feed on caterpillar eggs have shown some potential in Egyptian biocontrol studies.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Heterorhabditis spp.) have been used to control caterpillars.

Soil bacteria (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) have also been effective in controlling many species of caterpillar larvae (e.g. diamondback moth).


Various fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) can be purchased commercially and used as microbial insecticides to reduce caterpillar populations.  Increasing the fungal spore population can help increase caterpillar mortality over a shorter time period.

 

Viruses are also commercially available which can help manage plant-eating caterpillars such as leaf rollers and armyworms.

 

The Indianmeal moth is an insect whose larvae feed on stored products such as flour and pet food.  Adults of the Indianmeal moth can be controlled with the use of essential oil vapors from both sweet basil and spearmint. The oils are not effective against the egg or larval stages of these insects, however.

 

Adults of the Mediterranean Flour moth can be controlled with the use of essential oil vapors from basil, paprika, peppermint, rosemary, and spearmint.



  



COCKROACHES


Roaches belong to a large group of very familiar insects that includes crickets and grasshoppers.

Roaches have chewing mouthparts and can feed on practically anything.

Roaches do not directly transmit disease; however, they can contaminate food with an enormous variety of microbial pathogens including the eggs and larvae of parasites such as pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms; protozoa such as Entamoeba histolytica and Balantidium coli, bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia coli; and fungi such as yeast, many of which can lead to gastrointestinal problems and infections in humans. Roaches also have an unpleasant odor, and, as most of us know, their presence can be very annoying.

Roaches have also been shown to contribute to the increased severity of symptoms among asthma sufferers and others with respiratory problems due to the presence of their cast skins and feces which can be allergens.

 

Some studies indicate that roach allergen exposure early in life could even be used as a predictor for the development of asthma.

 

Detergents such as Spic ‘N Span™ can be used to remove these allergens, but be sure to discard the rinse water to prevent the allergens from being redistributed around the house.

 

Portable vacuums such as Miracle Marketing’s Optimus® HEPA are available commercially to help remove roach allergens more effectively.

 

To discourage roach appearances, caulk closed cracks at the interface of walls and floors, counters, backsplashes on sinks, and around electrical boxes and other wall-hung fixtures where roaches live.

 

The German roach (pictured above left) prefers to settle in small, tight spaces. It is most common in kitchens and bathrooms. Sealing cracks greatly reduces its preferred habitat.  This roach is also highly attracted to odors (pheromones) in the feces of other German roaches.  Good sanitation and vacuuming can be effective tools in reducing their numbers.

German roaches can be attracted to baits that contain bread, stale beer, peanut butter, or Jack Daniel’s Whiskey®.  Among these attractants, bread and beer combos seem to draw the most German roaches.

 

Unlike American roaches, German roaches must eat in order to reproduce.  They also prefer fats over proteins and carbohydrates.  If water is available, they can live for about a month without food.


The American roach (pictured above center) is considered more of a tropical species, and prefers temperatures over 80
° F. and humid conditions. It is often found in basements, restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. These roaches often cannot survive very long in residential homes if humidities fall below 45% and moisture or water is unavailable.

 

The American roach is one of the fastest animals on Earth (the tiger beetle is the fastest land animal), capable of reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour in short bursts.  At top speeds, they have been videotaped running on only two legs, much like a human.

 

Smokybrown roaches (pictured above right), which are actually large and shiny black, can be found mostly outdoors on structures around suburban homes. They are often found flying towards porch lights.

 

Smokybrowns occasionally enter homes where they can be found in areas where moistures levels are high. They also like to infest attics, and like American and German roaches, can be reduced or eliminated with the use of blowers or fans since they are very vulnerable to drying out.

 

In China, smokybrowns have been controlled with the use of viruses which can achieve high mortality rates against adults.

A bowl of cheap wine placed under the sink will kill roaches; they drink, fall in and die.

Mix four parts borax, four parts flour, one part cocoa, and put mix wherever you see roaches run.  Mixing equal parts of boric acid and oat flour will also produce an effective bait for controlling roaches. 

Set out water and dry cement where roaches visit; they will ingest both and die.

Ultrasound is not effective in repelling roaches.

Cedar, Japanese mint, scotch spearmint, and bay leaves are good natural repellents and make good barrier treatments.

 

Woodstream Corporation’s Victor Poison-Free Ant & Roach Killer® uses a 4% Japanese mint essential oil blend as an effective knockdown treatment for American and German roaches.

 

Ordinary soap sprays or common household cleaners (e.g. Fantastik®, Dawn® and 409®) can also be used against roaches for similar knockdown effects; often they will induce mortality as well. Cleaners are more effective against German roaches and their nymphs. American roaches are less susceptible and may survive the effects of these sprays.

Dorsey Inc. (Shellshock®) is a desiccant made up of 85% diatomaceous earth and comes in a squeeze dust applicator. It is slower acting (six weeks or more), but roaches will stay away longer.

 

Desiccants such as silica gels and diatomaceous earth products stimulate roaches and other insects that come into contact with them to immediately seek out a moisture source.  Without a water source, they will quickly dehydrate and die.

Dorsey Inc. (Repeel®) is a desiccant made up of diatomaceous earth and citrus oil from orange peel and is useful as a barrier treatment.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices and voids, and attics to repel roaches and deny harborage in these areas.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home and garden use for roach control.

Pyrethrum, a botanical derived from Chrysanthemum flowers is effective against roaches.

Pyrethrins are considered to be slightly toxic to humans and animals, and should therefore be used with some caution. There is some evidence, however, to suggest that German roaches are becoming increasingly resistant to the use of pyrethroids.


Use silica gel plus pyrethrin (e.g. Drione®) in wall voids to prevent roaches from migrating between rooms; the short-lived pyrethrin serves as a repellent barrier, while the silica gel provides long-term residual control.

 

Sprinkle boric acid powder or borax along baseboards, under and behind refrigerators and stoves, at the back edges of pantries and closets, and along cracks and crevices to repel roaches.

 

Blue Diamond Manufacturing produces baits, gels, and pastes (Blue Diamond® and Pro-Joe-S®) which contain varying concentrations of boric acid, and which can also be purchased commercially.

 

A 0.5 - 2% boric acid/sugar water solution (10 - 25% sugar) is an effective control bait against German roaches.

 

Boric acid is inorganic, does not emit toxic vapors, and is considered to be one of the most effective and cheapest treatments used against roaches.  Roaches do not easily develop resistance to boric acid treatments.  Boric acid baits are also less repellent to roaches than are baits composed of hydramethylnon (e.g. Maxforce® and Combat®). Boric acid treatments also provide long-term residual protection, but are also slower acting as a control method.

Use Maxforce® or Combat® bait stations along walls and inside equipment wherever you actually see roaches. These baits contain hydramethylnon, an odorless, solid chemical compound that is considered to be slightly toxic to humans and animals.  They should be used with some caution, but are certainly far less toxic than residual spraying with insecticides. In general, hydramethylnon bait stations also take longer to control and remove roaches from an area, but offer longer lasting protection.

 

Some Maxforce® and Combat® bait stations may contain fipronil as an active ingredient instead of hydramethylnon. Fipronil is even less toxic to humans and mammals than hydramethylnon due to its bait formulations containing very low concentrations of the active ingredient. Fipronil gels or baits are among the fastest ways to eliminate roach populations, so, if you are in a hurry, this is what you want to use.

Nematode bait stations can be effective against roaches, but are much slower acting.

 

BioLogic produces a gel formulation (BioRoach® and Roach Stopper®) which contains live nematodes in bait stations which can be used in areas where roaches frequent.  Roaches are attracted to the water in these baits, and are then infected and killed by the nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic parasitic worms that are harmless to humans and animals, but are able to infect and kill insects.

 

For baits to be effective, proper placement is essential so that roaches can find them easily.  Favored locations are behind refrigerators and stoves, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, and in areas where walls interface with floors since roaches prefer walking along or near baseboards.

 

Homes that maintain good sanitary conditions will also help provide better control of roaches compared to those with moderate or poor conditions.

 

Garlic oil is highly repellent to German roaches. Turkish studies suggest that garlic oil can be used as an effective fumigant against the American cockroach.

 

Studies out of Taiwan seem to indicate that essential oils from citrus can provide a quick knockdown effect and mortality against German roaches. 

The use of talc with citrus oil soap sprays will facilitate cuticular penetration and control roaches more effectively.

Most roaches are repelled by airflow, and the managed use of air movement has been used successfully to control roaches. Most roaches tested are repelled by air velocities of four meters per second or higher.

When using airflow systems to reduce roach populations, be careful to avoid contaminating ventilation systems with roach allergens. Use filters that stop or neutralize these allergens.

Roaches are also repelled by light, temperature extremes, and low relative humidities.

Use Teflon barriers to protect pet food bowls from contact with roaches.

Pheromone traps and fecal extracts have both been used to attract roaches to bait stations.

Woodstream Corporation’s Victor Roach Pheromone Trap® is an effective, sticky, baited pheromone trap used to monitor, control and reduce roach populations. It is now commercially available for public use. The trap contains a food bait plus an aggregation pheromone that lures roaches to a sticky glued surface. It is suitable for indoor or outdoor use.

Oils of catnip, cinnamon, thyme, and fruit extracts of Osage orange, have all been shown in studies to be repellent to German roaches. Catnip is also repellent to American roaches.

 

Arab studies have shown that clove oil is toxic to American roaches.

 

Coriander oil vapors (as fumigants) can also be used and are toxic to adult German roaches.     

 

Argentine studies have shown that peppertree extracts (i.e. Schinus molle) are toxic and repellent against German roaches.

 

Nutmeg seed extracts have shown some toxicity to German roaches in laboratory experiments in Korea.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) have also been used with some success in biocontrol programs against American and German roaches.

 

EcoScience Corp. markets a fungus-based bait station (Biopath®) for control of cockroaches.

 

Some evidence suggests that noviflumuron, a chitin inhibitor, can be used in baits to control populations of German roaches.  They have been found to be just as effective as other traditional bait stations such as Maxforce®.

 

Chitin synthesis inhibitors (insect growth regulators) act by preventing insects from successfully molting, and have been widely used around the world. These chemicals work at very low concentrations, and are considered safe for use around people, mammals, and other non-target organisms.  They may, however, take longer to eliminate entire local populations.

 

Some research suggests that combining bait stations using fungi and boric acid formulations can actually cut the time needed for mortality in roaches.

 

Some preliminary reports out of Florida suggest that liquid soaps may have some potential in roach control since they seem to induce high mortality when consumed.



  



CRICKETS AND GRASSHOPPERS


Crickets and grasshoppers belong to a large group of very familiar insects that includes roaches.

Like roaches, crickets and grasshoppers have chewing mouthparts and can feed on practically anything.

Crickets will eat living and dead insects, fruits and vegetables, plants, grasses, seeds, and even textiles such as silk and wool.  One of their favorite foods is beer.

 

Crickets are nocturnal and prefer warmer conditions.  They often come into homes if conditions are colder outside.

 

Crickets can be attracted to baits that contain peanut butter.

 

To discourage crickets from visiting your home or facility:

 

Weather-strip windows and doors to prevent access.

Caulk and seal crack-and crevice entry points.

Reduce cricket habitat by keeping grasses mowed.

Clear vegetation, woodpiles, and other debris from around your home.

 

Use a vacuum to remove crickets indoors.

 

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices and voids, and attics to repel crickets and deny harborage in these areas.

Use garlic or soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin to control crickets and grasshoppers.

The use of borates will also repel crickets.

Neem tree extract sprays have also been used successfully against crickets and grasshoppers.

Cover fruits and vegetables in garden beds with finely-spun row cover material sold at garden centers; these serve as a barrier to these plant feeders and other insects (not recommended for use in high temperatures because of the increased ground temperature and humidity).

 

The harvesting of pest grasshoppers for human consumption is a neglected but very effective form of control.  Grasshoppers, like many insects, are high in protein and low in fat and are a great alternative and nutritious food source (just don’t eat insects that have been sprayed with pesticides).

Mole crickets (pictured above center), which can cause heavy damage to pastures and turf grasses by tunneling through the root system, can be controlled with the use of parasitic nematodes, or with sub-surface treatments of fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana or Metarhizium anisopliae).

 

The use of fungal agents to control mole crickets has produced mixed results.  In some experiments, higher dosage rates seemed to provide less control, indicating that some crickets may have the ability to detect and avoid the fungi.  Sub-surface applications of fungi may be necessary to reach those crickets that may have retreated deeper into the soil and beneath the root zone.

 

Indian studies have shown that soil bacteria (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) are about 80% effective in controlling mole crickets after about three days in crops such as soybean.

 

Some evidence suggests that mole crickets can be flushed from the turf by using soapy water.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema scapterisci) have been used successfully against mole crickets.  Nematac ™ S is an example of a nematode-based product that is available commercially to homeowners for mole cricket control.

 

Three Brazilian biological control agents, a parasitoid fly (Ormia depleta), a parasitic nematode (Steinernema scapterisci), and a parasitoid wasp (Lara bicolor) have achieved some success in limiting the growth potential of mole crickets on Florida golf courses.  Cricket mortality was greatest when exposure to natural enemies occurred simultaneously.

Protozoan (e.g. Nosema locustae) and fungal (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae) pathogens have been used to successfully reduce populations of crickets and grasshoppers. Studies out of China have confirmed that protozoan pathogens such as N. locustae have persisted in the environment and continued to infect and reduce grasshopper populations for many years after an initial application.

 

The fungi, Metarhizium spp., and Beauveria bassiana, in particular, have become useful organisms in the management of locusts and grasshoppers.  The targeted fungal spraying of nymphs and/or soil treatments seems to work best. Adults and emerging nymphs are most vulnerable to infection. Although mortality takes longer (several days to a week), the use of these myco-insecticides has provided much needed relief from migratory swarms especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

In Australia, a fungal variant, Metarhizium flavoviride, has also been successful in reducing populations of grasshoppers there.

 

Some soil bacteria (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) have also been effective in controlling locusts in Chinese experiments.

 

In West Africa, studies have shown that neem products had a strong antifeedant effect against grasshoppers which helped to reduce their numbers as well.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Heterorhabditis spp. and Steinernema spp.) have also been used to effectively control locusts. Egyptian studies have shown that nematode sprays using Steinernema produced close to a 65% locust (late instar) mortality rate within three days in their field tests.

 

Experiments with the pathogenic microsporidium (i.e. Johenrea locustae) have shown some success in reducing feeding and survival of locusts in the laboratory.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. diflubenzuron) have been used successfully to control locusts and grasshoppers worldwide.  They work by preventing grasshoppers from molting, but may take several weeks before maximum control is attained.

 

Another insect growth regulator (i.e. triflumuron) has also been tested with good success against locusts in Mauritania.







EARWIGS


Earwigs are nocturnal insects that are mainly scavengers but are also predaceous on other insects.

 

Earwigs hide during the day in cracks, crevices, and in other similar places.

Earwigs do not bite, but can maneuver their abdomen to inflict a sometimes painful pinch.

Caulk areas to prevent home access.

Diatomaceous earth and silica gel can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices and voids, and attics to repel earwigs and deny harborage in these areas.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home use for earwig control.

 

Earwigs have been used to control aphid populations on organic citrus farms.

Because earwigs are excellent insect predators that feed on some of the pests mentioned in this index, outdoors and garden control is not recommended.







FLEAS


Fleas are small, flattened, wingless insects that feed as adults on the blood of birds and mammals.  Their larvae feed on detritus and the dried blood remains left behind by adult fleas.

Fleas are vectors of some human diseases including plague, typhus, tungiasis, and tapeworms.

 

Some individuals who are not bitten may also react allergically to flea secretions and detritus that can become airborne.

 

Adult fleas are stimulated to activity by noise and vibrations, heat, and CO2.

Fleas have exceptional jumping abilities and may live for over a year.

Homes with indoor cats and dogs can quickly become infested with cat fleas, which will also feed on humans if they have the chance.  Flea bites on people can often be found on the lower limbs, especially around the ankles.

 

The vast majority of fleas found in homes are cat fleas.

Cat fleas seem to prefer to settle and feed on the head and neck area of cats.  Cat owners may want to keep in mind that the back and neck is especially favored since it is more difficult for the cat to groom this area efficiently. 

 

Cat fleas can be attracted to light traps, and some studies seem to indicate a preference for flickering green lights over other kinds.

 

Ultrasound is not effective in repelling fleas.

 

Flea sprays and “bombs” add toxic residues to surfaces and are not recommended.  Some sensitive individuals may react allergically to these substances which puts them at risk.  Infants and toddlers will also be more at risk from exposure to these neurotoxins.

 

Use citrus-based oil or soap sprays with pyrethrin for control of cat fleas.


Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices and voids, and attics to repel fleas and deny access in these areas.

Silica gel can also be rubbed into the fur of cats and dogs for an effective flea control.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home and garden use for flea control.

Pyrethrum, a botanical derived from Chrysanthemum flower petals is effective against fleas.

Sprinkle boric acid powder on carpets to repel fleas.

 

Cedar oil has been shown to be toxic to adult fleas.

 

Flea Nix® is a product that controls fleas by using a borate powder solution to clean carpets.  Borates work by preventing flea larvae from developing.

 

Boric acid and borates are very effective at killing both flea larvae and eggs in carpets.

 

Common table salt is also a desiccant and can be used to treat carpets and upholstered furniture for flea control.  Some evidence suggests spraying areas with about two tablespoons of salt in two cups of water will work.  Allow some time for evaporation (e.g. overnight), then vacuum up the fleas the next morning.

Adult fleas and eggs can also be removed from dry floors or carpets by just vacuuming.

 

Flea larvae are not as easily removed from carpeting since they have claws and tend to “dig in” and stay attached to carpet fibers.  Vacuums with more horsepower can be effective at removing these larvae. 

 

Be sure to vacuum in areas where pets rest including the cushions on sofas and chairs and under furniture.  After vacuuming, discard vacuum bags to prevent reinfestation.

 

Steam cleaning is also effective at killing adult fleas and larvae.  If you choose this method, follow up with vacuuming which will help remove any eggs that may have survived the steam treatment.

 

Fleas can be removed from cats and dogs with flea combs which have very fine teeth designed to trap fleas.  After combing, fleas can then be killed by dropping them into a dish of soapy water.

 

Clothes washers and dryers will also kill fleas that are attached to pet bedding and other fabrics.

 

Commercially available shampoos and carpet cleaners will actually do a pretty good job of killing all stages of fleas.

 

Some companies have marketed insect growth regulators (e.g. methoprene) for flea control.  Methoprene induces mortality by preventing larvae from successfully pupating and becoming adults.

 

Methoprene degrades quickly in water, has shown low toxicity to birds, mammals or fish, and is more target specific than the more widely used insecticidal sprays. There is, however, some evidence that suggests that frogs, which feed on mosquitoes, and perhaps other amphibians, may be negatively affected by the use of these growth regulators.

Fleas on lawns can be controlled with nematode sprays.

Brewer's yeast and B vitamins do not repel fleas.

Neem seed powder is effective for control of flea larvae.

Sticky light traps and tapes can be used to control and repel fleas. Green light is especially attractive as a bait for cat fleas.

 

   



FLIES


Flies comprise a large group of mostly small insects whose members include scavengers, predators, parasitoids, plant-eaters, and blood-feeders.

Like bees, flies are also effective pollinators.

Flies are vectors of many human diseases including roundworm, African sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis,
onchocerciasis, amoebic dysentery, trachoma, tularemia, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and anthrax.

 

Flies are also quite capable of transmitting bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella, Chlamadia, and Listeria to humans and animals.

Tiny phorid (humpbacked) flies will breed quickly wherever there is a buildup of decaying or organic matter. To control them:

Clean out garbage disposal systems in kitchen sinks.
Disinfect/remove standing garbage cans of decaying organic material.
Refrigerate fresh fruit and vegetables brought home from the store.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices and voids, and attics to repel house flies and deny harborage in these areas.

 

House flies develop in animal manure, rotting vegetation, kitchen garbage, lawn clippings, and carrion.

Fermenting foods such as molasses, honey, maple syrup, sugar, bananas, and beer are often attractive baits for house flies. Traps baited with brown sugar and vinegar can also attract a lot of flies.

Orange, lemon, camphor, clove, pine, juniper, laurel, evergreen, catnip, eucalyptus, thyme, balsam fir, rosemary, neem, peppermint, sugar apple, and cedar oils are all repellent to house flies. Peppermint oil, neem, and black pepper extracts are especially repellent to house fly larvae. 

 

Indian and Thai studies suggest that lemongrass oil is toxic to house fly adults, larvae and pupae.

Pepper tree berries and leaves, as well as hop vines grown on houses, are also repellent to house flies.

Other botanical repellents such as citronella, lavender, and geranium extracts have been used as effective deterrents.

A 2% emulsion of basil or avocado oil will repel maggots and flies.

Boric acid powder and borax can both be used as a general treatment against flies.  Borax seems to be more effective than boric acid for control of flies that breed in manure.

Neem tree extract sprays have been used effectively against biting flies.

 

Chilean studies have shown that some fungi (e.g. Aspergillis spp. and Penicillium spp.) can be good infective agents in controlling adult house flies.

 

Experiments completed in India have shown that the use of an insect growth regulator (e.g. triflumuron) in combination with a wasp pupal parasitoid (i.e. Dirhinus himalayanus) was effective in reducing house fly numbers.

 

At poultry facilities and dairies, house flies are becoming increasingly resistant to a broad range of insecticides, including permethrin.

Fungus gnats are small, dark flies that are attracted to lights, and can be found running around the soil on potted plants. Their eggs are often found in bagged soil mixes brought home from the store. Larvae feed on roots, rotting vegetation, and fungi in the soil.

 

Fungus gnats are also capable of transmitting diseases to plants such as poinsettias and bulbs.  Plants are more vulnerable after being injured by these gnats.

 

Gnats do not develop below about 50° F or above 95° F.

 

 To control them:

Turn over the top three inches of soil allowing it to dry and kill the larvae.
Clean and dry overflow saucers underneath the pot.
Remove any rotten leaves, stems, and roots from the plant.
Do not over water which encourages the growth of fungi.

 

Female fungus gnats can be discouraged from laying eggs if the top layer of soil is replaced with a thin (half-inch) layer of sand.

 

Some evidence suggests that soaking potting soil in a soap solution will provide some protection against fungus gnats.  If you use this method, keep in mind that soap may be toxic to some growing plants.

 

Octenol can be used as a repellant against fungus gnats.

Nematodes (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis spp.) and predaceous mites can be used against fungus gnats in greenhouses.  The effectiveness of nematodes can vary depending on the type of potting soil that is used.  Keep in mind that air temperature and soil moisture content are also limiting factors for the survival of nematodes.

 

Some soil bacteria (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) have been effective in controlling early stage larvae of fungus gnats.

 

Rove beetles have been used to control fungus gnats.

Insect growth regulators (e.g. fenoxycarb) used in planting medium have been shown to reduce the number of emerging fungus gnats from the soil.

Flies can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:


Histerid Beetle (Carcinops pumilio)
Dung Beetle (Onthophagus gazella)
Predaceous Fly (Ophyra aenescens)
Parasitic Mites (Various spp.)
Parasitoid Wasp (Various spp.)


Basil has some repellency effects for house and bluebottle flies.

Garlic extracts (oil vapors) will also control house flies.

Bayberry bark extracts have been shown to be an effective attractant for male fruit flies.

 

A study out of Veracruz, Mexico seemed to indicate that diluted human urine was also attractive to fruit flies as potential bait in orchards.

Fruit fly larvae and pupae can be controlled by ants and staphylinid (rove) beetles.

 

Fruit flies are more attracted to stationary objects that are spherical and either green or yellow in color.

Pyrethrum, a botanical derived from Chrysanthemum flower petals is effective against flies.

The roots of the American cornflower contain oil that is repellent and also kills flies.

Sabadilla seeds are toxic to house flies.

Geranial candles have been patented as house fly repellents.

Perfumes and colognes containing the chemical compound bisabolene will also repel house flies.

Tsetse flies (pictured above center) may carry a parasite called a trypanosome in their blood, which can (under certain conditions) vector African sleeping sickness (= Human African Trypanosomiasis) to humans and animals.

 

Tsetse flies prefer warm, humid, shaded habitats, and are often found around vegetation close to streams or water pools frequented by humans who are gathering water, washing clothes, or bathing. Some tsetse flies will also enter buildings and homes to seek out hosts or to find shelter.

 

Tsetse flies are active biters during the day, with both sexes seeking blood meals every few days or so. Like mosquitoes, tsetse flies are attracted to CO2 and octenol (cow breath). These flies prefer to land on and feed on the shoulders and backs of their host animals.

 

Tsetse flies are also attracted to cow and pig urine, and acetone.  Odor-baited traps using a combination of octenol, cow urine, and acetone seemed to provide the best results.

 

Tsetse flies are strongly attractive to specific shades of blue, which has resulted in the production of visual traps which can be treated with insecticides.

 

Larger populations of tsetse flies have been found in areas that have been disturbed by human activities, such as in cultivated agrosystems supported by cattle grazing.

 

In one Ugandan study, cattle, pigs, and monitor lizards were the main hosts fed upon by tsetse flies. In Cameroon, humans and pigs were the preferred hosts.

 

Studies from the Ivory Coast suggest that your chances of being bitten and infected by a tsetse fly are higher along footpaths, in farms and plantations, and around forested water springs, than in border areas surrounding villages and forests.

 

In Zimbabwe, the use of “artificial cows” has been successful in eliminating tsetse flies from a region.

 

Pyrethroids (e.g. deltamethrin) have been used in successful aerial spraying campaigns in Botswana to eliminate local populations of tsetse flies.

 

Some evidence suggests that certain fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) could provide a sufficiently high enough infection rate to be used in adult tsetse fly control programs.  In studies of islands on Lake Victoria, traps containing dry conidia were, indeed, effective in suppressing tseste fly populations.

 

Nigerian studies suggest that extracts from eucalyptus, lemongrass, and orange peels can decrease the number of parasites in cell cultures that cause African Trypanosomiasis.

 

Sand flies (pictured above right), feed primarily on humans and birds, but do not object to feeding on other animals (e.g. dogs) if given a chance. They can transmit leishmaniasis, a nasty protozoan disease, which can be reduced with the use of indoor permethrin-impregnated curtains. Like some mosquitoes, these flies are attracted to CO2, but also seem to be attracted to the skin odors of their hosts.

 

Sand flies can be attracted to traps baited with octenol, dry ice, CO2, sugar/yeast mixtures, and human odors. Light traps (especially ultraviolet) will also attract sand flies.

 

Some commercially available mosquito traps (e.g. Sentinel 360™) may actually be more effective at catching sand flies than mosquitoes.

 

Most sand flies feed at night, but a few species will bite during the day. These flies prefer to land on and feed on the head and upper body parts of their host animals. 

 

Some studies have shown that sand flies that live in and around houses prefer biting humans within an hour or so of midnight. Some species bite humans primarily inside their homes.

 

Evidence from Brazil suggests that the number of sand flies increases after rainy periods.

 

Leishmaniasis often occurs in long-established communities in habitats that are associated with human dwellings such as chicken houses and pigsties. Domesticated animals such as dogs and horses may also provide reservoirs for additional infections.

 

Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is characterized by the presence of large skin lesions, can be transmitted from person to person more effectively in populations that are more concentrated due to overcrowding.  Studies from Pakistan showed that civil wars tend to increase disease due to migration among refugees and their settlement into camps that offer limited sanitation and protection from sand fly bites.

 

Over 90% of cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis occur in just six countries (Afghanistan, Syria, Brazil, Iran, Peru, and Saudi Arabia).

 

In Brazil, outbreaks of cutaneous leishmaniasis are associated with deforestation and rural settlements.

 

The development of agriculture and irrigation practices, including the cultivation of certain crops such as banana, cocoa, and coffee, has also been linked to the transmission of leishmaniasis.                                                                                                                              

 

Studies from Iran suggest that root extracts from barberry (Berberis vulgaris) may be helpful in the treatment of lesions caused by cutaneous leishmaniasis.

 

Visceral leishmaniasis (=kala-azar) is a more serious infection which can cause severe weight loss and the enlargement of internal organs such as the spleen and liver.

 

In Brazilian studies, transmission was found to be more prevalent in homes with inadequate sewage systems, and in those with no regular garbage collection services.  In Venezuela, villagers who lived in houses close to woodlands were found to be at greater risk of infection by these flies. In Ethiopia, dog ownership and sleeping outdoors at night were risk factors for visceral leishmaniasis. In Turkey, sleeping without a bed net was one of the main risks for infection.

 

Sand flies are also capable of transmitting viruses to humans such as the Toscana virus which can cause meningitis and encephalitis.  People who live in rural areas and are outdoors for extended periods are most at risk of being bitten.

 

In some countries like Iran, the primary hosts for sand flies are gerbils and other small rodents (e.g. jirds) which live in burrows near the edge of villages.

 

Sand flies feed mainly from dusk until dawn, are seasonally abundant, and seem to prefer hotter, drier summer conditions over cooler, wetter winters.

 

Since sand flies are also attracted to light, some evidence suggests that external light sources adjacent to homes may increase the risks of being bitten as well.

 

Some studies suggest that sand flies can become naturally infected by nematodes in the field.

 

Venezuelan studies suggest that certain fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae) could provide a sufficiently high enough infection rate to be used in adult sand fly control programs. 

 

In Afghanistan, bed nets treated with pyrethroids (e.g. permethrin) have shown some success in repelling sand flies. Bed nets have not been shown to increase their mortality. Bed nets that are not treated with insecticides also provide protection against sand flies.  Islamic sleepwear (e.g. chaddars) treated with permethrin also provides a protective effect similar to bed nets.

 

Like mosquitoes, sand flies are fragile insects that require still or very limited air flow in order to bite. They can be repelled by the air motion produced by the circulating fan blades produced by a ceiling fan, or by a battery-operated portable fan unit. 

 

Since sand flies are very small (2-3 mm), and have the ability to penetrate the mesh of standard mosquito nets, the use of fans at night would add a level of protection.  Permethrin can be applied to mesh nets to help deter sand flies from accessing netting.  Finer mesh nets can also be purchased commercially that will stop sand flies.

 

Window screening can also be effective in preventing access to sand flies.

 

The burning of linalool and geraniol candles can be effective sand fly repellents. Linalool is an alcohol found naturally in many flowers and spice plants. Geraniol is also a naturally produced plant-based alcohol made from lemon grass or geranium which is used in perfumes and flavoring agents.  Geraniol is somewhat more effective than linalool in comparison tests.

Experiments in Iran have shown that oils from the common myrtle plant compare favorably with Deet® as effective repellents against adult sand flies.

 

Lemon and neem oils have been shown to be effective repellents against sand flies.

 

In Ethiopia, neem or chinaberry oils (2-5% concentrations) mixed into coconut oils afforded at least 7 hours of protection against sand flies.

 

In Eastern Sudan, lavender essential oil extracts, used in the form of a lotion, provided up to seven hours of protection against sand flies.

 

Lemongrass essential oils have shown antiproliferative activity against the developmental stages of leishmaniasis.

 

Indian studies have shown that extracts of certain marine sponges (e.g. Haliclona exigua) were effective inhibitors of the developmental stages of the organisms that cause leishmaniasis.

 

Kenyan studies have shown that selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) also have good potential for success against sand flies in leishmaniasis control programs.

 

A very effective house fly control used for centuries on farms involves mixing chopped toadstools with sweet milk in a bowl left to ferment overnight. The next morning, this poisonous brew will attract and kill large numbers of house flies.

Many flying insects, including house flies, are repelled by high airflows and prefer resting on the downwind side of structures such as building posts. Air curtains are used at the entrances of food-processing plants to exclude flies for this reason.

 

Geraniol can be used topically to help reduce the number of nuisance horn flies that frequently attack dairy cows.

Biting horseflies, deerflies (pictured above left), and tsetse flies are attracted to moving objects and have shown a preference for those that are spherical and dark or black in color. They are also attracted to CO
2 and octenol. Traps that utilize a suspended black ball and octenol have yielded the greatest numbers of these flies. 

 

Biting flies, including horseflies, deerflies, and tsetse flies, also seem to be drawn to phenols, which are compounds commonly found in animal urine.  They use these odors to locate their hosts from a distance.

 

Stableflies prefer to land on and bite the legs of the animals they feed on.  They also are most active in the late afternoon and at dusk.

 

Dairy farms use catnip formulations to repel nuisance stableflies and horn flies from cattle. Lemongrass oil can also be used to repel stableflies.

 

Some evidence suggests that certain fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) can reduce the emergence of treated eggs and pupae of horn flies.

 

Vertically-oriented dark-colored stripes drawn on a light-colored background can help draw stableflies away from host animals and people.

 

One interesting study suggests that beach balls treated with adhesives can also be used as decoys to lure stableflies away from people and animals.  The beach balls consisted of blue, yellow, and red diamond-shaped panels that were very attractive to these flies.

In certain areas, sticky traps baited with dry ice have also provided some control for horseflies and deerflies.

Commercially available deerfly patches (e.g. Tred-not™ Deerfly Patches) have had some success in trapping some deerflies. They consist of double-sided adhesive strips that are affixed to the back of meshed baseball caps. They seem to work more effectively against deerflies that are attracted to the heads of humans and other animals rather than to other exposed areas such as the legs and lower extremities.

 

Blackflies are capable of transmitting a parasitic worm to humans through their bite causing onchocerciasis or river blindness.  Like mosquitoes, these flies are also attracted to the CO2 exhalations from their hosts.

 

Blackflies feed throughout the day, but tend to be the most active during mid-morning and in the late afternoon.

 

African and Indian blackflies bite mainly on the legs and lower part of the body, whereas American species prefer to bite around the head and upper part of the body.

 

Some studies have shown that individuals with blood type O are more susceptible to onchocerciasis infection than those belonging to non-O blood groups.

 

Experiments in Nigeria provide evidence that essential oils from the African basil plant (Ocimum gratissimum) were effective temporary repellents (up to 3 hours) against blackflies.

 

Catnip oil formulations and lotions have been shown to be repellent to blackflies, and can offer up to six hours of protection.

 

Some studies in Argentina suggest that blackflies are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides containing pyrethroids.

 

Some soil bacteria (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) have been effective in controlling the larvae of blackflies and house flies.

One unusual observation about blackflies from my own experience hiking in Belize was that even with an application of Deet, these flies did not seem to care.  Unlike mosquitoes and other biting flies which are repelled by this chemical, blackflies in the tropics tended to dive-bomb onto my treated arms and wound up smothering themselves.

 

Sticky black light traps and adhesives can be used to control and suppress fly populations as well.

Electrocuting light traps can be purchased commercially for fly control.  Keep in mind that these traps cause insects to explode, so the effect can be unsanitary to say the least in food preparation areas.

As is the case with most mosquitoes, carbon dioxide (from your expired breath) will also attract most biting midges to you.  Like many biting flies, these midges can also be lured to traps containing octenol (cow breath).

 

Traps that combine CO2 and octenol are more effective in attracting midges than either operating alone.

 

Biting midges are more active at dusk and at night.  They prefer low wind speeds and, in fact, are mostly inactive at higher wind velocities (over 7 miles per hour).  Any rainfall will also inhibit the activity of most biting midges.

 

In the Scottish Highlands, studies have shown that midge bites can be significantly reduced with the use of topical neem-based oil formulations.

 

Because midges are also attracted to lights, closing window blinds at night will help reduce their numbers from around your home.

 

Black light traps and light traps with green light-emitting diodes (LED’s) have been shown to be more effective than incandescent ones in attracting biting midges.


The tadpole shrimp (Triops spp.) has been used successfully to reduce populations of larval midges in temporary aquatic habitats such as ponds.

 

Studies out of Taiwan seem to indicate that essential oils from citrus can provide a quick knockdown effect and mortality against house flies.  The oil also prevented house fly pupae from becoming adults.

 

Some flies and larvae can be controlled with nematode sprays. The biting midge is an example of a fly that has been controlled using nematodes.

Nematodes (e.g. Steinernema feltiae) have also been sprayed onto fresh cattle manure to suppress house fly larvae, pupae, and adults. Cattle manure seems to be a more effective substrate for nematode survival than is poultry manure. Other nematode species (i.e. Heterorhabditis) can also reduce house fly adult and larval populations. Pupae are somewhat more resistant to attack, but some studies have shown that infection rates were higher in soil than in manure.

 

In Egyptian studies, flesh fly pupae and adults have been successfully controlled with nematodes (e.g. Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.).

 

Garlic sprays can be used as insecticides against house flies.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. novaluron) have shown some promise in the control of house fly larvae, and the subsequent reduction in adult emergence. Immature horn and stable flies have also been controlled in this manner.

 

Entomopathogenic fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae and Tolypocladium cylindrosporum can be very effective control agents against house fly larvae.  Certain oils such as linseed and soybean were good carriers of these fungi.

 

Adult blowflies, house flies, and stable flies can be effectively reduced with the use of entomopathogenic fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae). Spores suspended in silicone oil increased the infection rate. Flies become contaminated and die within about seven to ten days, but are also capable of infecting other healthy flies as well.

The use of the fungal strain Beauveria bassiana has had some success in controlling adult populations of house flies and stable flies. This strain is less effective against house fly larvae. Some evidence suggests that the use of sawdust rather than straw bedding for calves on dairy farms enhances the success rate even more.

 

Other selected fungi, (e.g. Entomophthora muscae) have been used with good success in limiting house fly numbers on dairy farms.  Some studies indicate that lower air temperatures increase the effectiveness of infection rates.  Higher temperatures seem to increase the survival time of diseased flies.

 

Some bacterial formulations (including e.g. Brevibacillus laterosporus) are also toxic to house fly larvae.

 

The parasitoid wasp Muscidifurax raptorellus attacks the pupal stage of house flies, and can be used to help reduce their populations on poultry farms.

 

Other pupal parasitoid wasps (e.g. Spalangia cameroni, Nasonia vitripennis, and Phygadeuon fumator) have also been successful against house flies and stableflies on swine and dairy farms.

 

Black soldier flies have also been used to control house fly populations on poultry farms.

The larvae of the black dump fly (Hydrotaea aenescens) have been used successfully on dairy, poultry, and swine farms to control house fly populations.

 








LEAFHOPPERS


Leafhoppers have piercing mouthparts, and feed on the leaves of almost all types of plants, including trees, grasses, flowers, and many crops.

Leafhoppers can also transmit viruses and bacteria to plants which can cause disease in some fruits and vegetables such as citrus, grapes, almonds, corn, wheat, rice, carrots, chickpeas, yams, and alfalfa.

Leafhoppers can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)
Parasitoid Wasp (Anagrus spp.)


Avoid feeding plants nitrogen which encourages leafhoppers to reproduce.

 

Spiders will also help to control leafhopper populations.

 

Because leafhoppers are highly attracted to light, UV-absorbing plastic has been used to entice leafhoppers away from plants.

Sticky traps, tapes, and adhesives can be used to control and repel leafhoppers.

 

Leafhoppers seem to prefer the colors yellow and orange over other colors when they respond to traps.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin can be effective against leafhoppers.

Oils sprayed as an emulsion in water can reduce pest numbers. Fish, petroleum, or vegetable oils can be used.

Garlic sprays or hot pepper wax can also be effective against leafhoppers.

 

Some studies have shown that catnip oil and Ginkgo biloba extracts are repellent to leafhoppers.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) have also been used with some success in biocontrol programs against planthoppers.


Neem tree extract sprays have been used effectively against leafhoppers. Sprays will be more effective when used in the cooler mornings or evenings when leafhoppers are not as active.

 

 

 



LICE


Sucking lice are small, wingless, external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals.

The head louse (pictured above left), and crab (i.e. pubic) louse do not directly vector disease; however, the body louse can transmit typhus and relapsing fever to humans.

 

Body lice often occur when large numbers of people are found together in unsanitary conditions.

 

People who bathe and change clothes regularly seldom become infested with lice, but when they go for long periods without bathing or changing clothes, and live in crowded conditions, lousiness can become more prevalent.

 

Crab lice are usually transmitted from person to person through physical or sexual contact, but occasionally can be re-distributed by way of clothing.

 

During wartime, soldiers, refugees, and other displaced individuals such as prisoners of war, are also more susceptible to body lice infestations.

 

Body lice usually hang onto clothing while feeding, and often remain on the clothing when it is removed.  At night, they may migrate from one pair of clothes to another.

 

Since body lice eggs are laid on clothing, treatment involves washing and drying clothes and bedding in hot water to kill all stages including the eggs.

 

Because body lice spend most of their lives on clothing, treating individuals with shampoos or cream rinses containing insecticides such as lindane or pyrethrins is not recommended.  Indeed, published studies have shown a link between the use of these shampoos and childhood leukemia.

 

Like other insects, lice have also become increasingly resistant to the use of these insecticides.

 

Some studies indicate that certain plant essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, and rosemary are good effective repellents against body lice. Clove essential oil, especially its major component, eugenol, is particularly repellent to body lice.

Adult head lice may be present on the head or in the eyebrows and eyelashes.

Head lice seem to prefer to infest women and children.  Some studies, in fact, have shown that girls may be six times as likely as boys to be infested.

Frequent head scratching may be the first sign of the presence of these lice.

Suspect head lice if you notice a fine black dust (lice feces) on pillows and shirt collars.

Head lice are most often found on school children between the ages of three and ten years old.

 

Young girls with longer hair are more susceptible to lice attacks than those with shorter hair.

The highest risk of being infested from head lice comes from immediate family members and playmates.

 

Increased numbers of siblings in the family also increases the risk of head lice infestations.

When children sleep or sit together, lice often have the opportunity to move from head to head.

Overcrowding conditions at home or at school will also encourage head lice infestations.

Head lice can be redistributed to others by the sharing of combs, brushes, hats, and other articles of clothing including scarves and coats.

Lice can also be transferred from bedding, towels, and from upholstered furniture, including from the backs of seats and chairs.

Personal hygiene is not a factor in being susceptible to human lice attack, but poorer economic and living conditions have been shown to increase the prevalence of head lice.

 

Eggs (nits) are often found glued to hairs, but can be more easily removed from the scalp with fine-toothed metallic nit combs which are available in drugstores. Some studies have suggested that the most effective combs for removing head lice have the least space between the comb teeth.

Some shampoo-based treatments (e.g. Kwell®) contain powerful insecticides such as lindane which will kill adult head lice, but are not effective against their eggs.

Insecticidal shampoos, in general, should only be used as a last resort because of possible toxic reactions, especially in children. Lice resistance to these chemicals is also on the rise. Shampoos should never be used by pregnant or nursing women, or by children under two years old.

Pyrethrum, pyrethrins, and permethrin, botanicals derived from Chrysanthemum flowers can also be used as topical (shampoo) treatments against head lice; however, resistance has become more widespread with their increased use.

Currently, nit combing and frequent head and hair inspections are the most favored and effective human lice treatments.

Vaseline-based and alcoholized topical treatments, while less harmful and irritating to the scalp, are toxic to adult lice but will not kill their eggs.

 

Desiccants such as silica gel, or other drying agents, are similar in their effectiveness to Vaseline treatments.

Other botanical products such as HairClean 1-2-3 Lice Remover® are also only effective against adult lice.

 

Licatack®, an anti-louse shampoo containing grapefruit extracts, has been shown to be a safe and effective product against adult and larval stages of head lice.

 

Utah scientists have developed a portable hairdryer-like device (e.g. the LouseBuster) that uses pressurized hot, dry air to eliminate adult lice and eggs.  It is a safe, non-chemical treatment. This device is not available for purchase by individuals; however, in some states it is used by professionals in clinics, schools, etc.

 

In Australia, experiments with infested school children who used a neem-based shampoo (Wash-Away Louse™) to remove their head lice, showed a high level of control after only a few hours.  This product has been shown to be effective against head lice for all stages including the eggs if heads are covered with shampoo for at least 10 minutes. This formulation is not yet available commercially, however.

 

Some evidence from South Korea and Argentina suggests that vapors from plant essential oils such as cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, marjoram, and rosemary may be effective in repelling head lice.  Further studies from Argentina showed that the essential oils of thyme are toxic to eggs and adults of head lice when applied at a low concentration for about 20 minutes.

 

In addition to thyme, clove, and eucalyptus mentioned previously, Egyptian studies suggest that spearmint, anise, and cassia essential oils were also effective against head lice.

 

In Cuba, tinctures of indigo (i.e. 5% Indigofera suffruticosa) were used to eliminate head lice infestations after several applications.

 

Tea tree oil (melaleuca) has shown effectiveness as a repellent against human lice infestations. Italian studies have shown 100% mortality after 30 minutes using a 1% concentration.

 

Studies from Thailand have shown that extracts of sugar apple seeds were effective in eliminating head lice in less than an hour.


Insecticidal shampoos, oil-based treatments, commercial lice sprays, home fumigation, head shaving, and the use of any fuel-based products such as kerosene as topical rinses, are not recommended for controlling human lice infestations.

 

Head lice, like other insects, are susceptible to dehydration, and require warm, humid conditions to flourish.  Indeed, studies have shown that adult lice can not survive away from their host for more than about a day and a half. Keep in mind that air-conditioning lowers temperature and humidity, and may discourage lice from leaving their host, reducing their ability to disperse and infest others.

To reduce you or your child's exposure to head lice:

Examine your child's head weekly using a comb on dry or lightly misted hair.
Use a magnifying glass and an intense light to help in seeing nits.
Check favored spots like the back of the neck and behind the ears.
If you find lice or nits, coat the hair with any salad oil to prevent tangles.
Comb out nits and lice with a special metal lice comb.
Comb weekly until you can no longer find any nits or lice.
Encourage your child not to share combs, brushes, etc. with others.
Store infested clothing separately to avoid redistribution.
Wash sheets and pillowcases weekly in hot water to remove lice.
Wash infested clothing and vacuum weekly to kill any stray lice.

The booklouse (pictured above right), is a small, often wingless, chewing insect that feeds on books, flour, sugar, milk powder, cereals, grains, molds, and other materials.  One of their favorite foods is yellow millet.

 

The booklouse is not actually parasitic, and is not even a louse.  It belongs to a less well known order of insects called psocids.  I’ve included them in the LICE group only because they are commonly referred to as “booklice”.

 

Booklice favor warm and damp areas of homes and buildings. They are most abundant in bathrooms and kitchens, and populations indoors tend to peak during the summer months.

 

Studies suggest that optimum development and growth rates for booklice occurs at temperatures of 90° and a relative humidity of 63%.

 

Some evidence suggests that disinfestations of booklice can occur with high temperatures in the range of 113 – 131 ° F.

To discourage infestations of booklice, keep structures and homes under 50% humidity to minimize problems with these insects.

 

Chinese studies suggest that cinnamon oil (i.e. Cinnamomum cassia) may be effective as a fumigant against booklice.



 



MEALYBUGS


The name mealybug comes from the mealy or waxy secretions that cover the bodies of these insects.

Mealybugs have piercing mouthparts, and are similar to scale insects but are more mobile.

 

Mealybugs feed on a wide variety of plants including pineapple, bananas, coffee, cotton, and Hibiscus.

 

Mealybugs can also transmit viruses such as grapevine leafroll to some crop plants such as grapes which can cause disease.


Mealybugs can be found feeding on almost any part of a plant and are often found in greenhouses.

Certain ants have a tendency to protect mealybugs from their natural enemies due to their desire to "milk" them of sweet secretions which nourish colony members. To reduce ant numbers, you might consider using a bait station in these circumstances. For more information about these baits, see the section under
ANTS.

Indeed, the management of ant populations is important for controlling mealybug populations, especially for infestations.


Mealybugs can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)

Predatory Lady Beetle (Ladybug) (Various spp.)
Mealybug Destroyer Beetle (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri)
Wasp Parasitoids (Various spp.)


Avoid feeding plants nitrogen fertilizer which encourages plant growth and mealybugs to reproduce.

Diatomaceous earth can be used in gardens to control mealybugs.

Neem tree extract sprays can be effective against mealybugs and other greenhouse pests.

Use fish, petroleum, or vegetable oils to repel mealybugs.

 

High-pressure water sprays can be used to remove mealybugs from plants.

 

Refrigerating plants for a few days can also help reduce mealybug populations.

Soap sprays with citrus oil have also been used successfully to control mealybugs.  Indeed, limonene, which is a component of citrus peel oil, can actually dissolve away the waxy secretions these insects produce to protect themselves.

 

Hot water immersion treatments have been used successfully to completely disinfect some fruits such as limes from mealybugs without significantly altering the quality of the fruit.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) have been used with some success in biocontrol programs against mealybugs. Indian studies using Metarhizium anisopliae against mealybugs suggest it may take about a week or so before achieving complete control.

 

Brazilian studies have shown that entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Heterorhabditis sp.) were about 70% effective in controlling mealybugs in greenhouses.

 

In India, slippery bands and funnel traps attached to mango trees have been used with good results to control mealybugs.

 

Greenhouse experiments have shown that soil growth mediums made from food waste (vermicomposts) were effective in reducing pest outbreaks of mealybugs.  Plants were less attractive to mealybugs and reduced their reproductive rates as well.




 



MITES


Mites comprise a large and diverse group of mostly small arachnids whose members include scavengers, predators, parasites, and plant-eaters.

Harvest mites (i.e. chiggers or redbugs) are external parasites of animals, and are able to transmit a form of typhus to humans.

 

Clove oil and tea tree oils can be used as topical repellents against chiggers.

 

Some mites such as the straw itch mite (Pyemotes tritici), the furniture beetle mite (Pyemotes ventricosus), and the red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) have been associated with cases of dermatitis in humans.

The brown-legged mite (Aleuroglyphus ovatus) may also be associated with contact allergies among some grain industry workers.

The dust mite (pictured above left) feeds mainly on human skin fragments and can be found in abundance in mattresses, pillows, on carpets, in corners of rooms, on clothing, bedding, in the floor space under the bed, in upholstered furniture, and even in a child's stuffed animals.

 

Dust mites are attracted to humans by the odors emitted by lipids, especially the saturated fatty acids that are found on the skin surface.

 

Dust mites rely on mold or fungi to make skin fragments soft and moist enough to consume. In turn, the fungi need a warm, humid environment to prosper.

 

Dust mites have been shown to contribute to the increased severity of symptoms among asthma sufferers and others with respiratory problems due to the presence of their cast skins and feces which can be allergens.


The primary dust mite breeding area is the bed.

Dust mites tend to congregate in areas where humidity is greatest.  As indoor air gets moister, dust mite survival and populations increase.

 

Dust mites will thrive best at an average temperature of 82° and 80% humidity. The density of dust mites is much greater in tropical environments than in temperate ones.

 

In Malaysian studies, more than 10,000 mites were found in as little as one gram of dust from one carpet sample.

 

In homes and buildings that use central air-conditioning systems year round, dust mite levels can be kept down to a minimum.

Dust mite numbers are highest during the summer months.

 

Some studies suggest that dust mites are less likely to survive in beds that are unmade.  Exposure to air tends to dehydrate mites; warmth and moisture tends to be trapped in smoothed over sheets and coverings, which may help dust mites to thrive.

Steam cleaning carpets and mattresses can be very helpful in eliminating dust mites.

 

Commercial garment steamers (e.g. The Jiffy® Steamer J-4000) can be directed into mattresses to provide 165º heat which causes 100% dust mite mortality within seconds.

 

One very effective method to remove live mites from bedding, carpets, rugs, soft furniture, pillows, etc. is to just leave them out in the hot sun for several hours, then beat and brush them to remove the dust containing the dead mites.

 

Dust mites can be removed from beds and other surfaces with adhesive lint rollers which can be purchased commercially.

 

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can be applied to carpets to repel dust mites and deny harborage in these areas.


For asthma sufferers, an electrostatic air filter can be used to remove airborne dust mite particles and allergens. Wash filters at least monthly for best results because filters help trap mite allergens.

Borates in solution have shown some promise in reducing dust mite populations in carpets.

 

Permethrin-impregnated mattress liners have been used to successfully reduce dust mite populations in the beds of some homeowners for more than two years without any apparent side effects.

To reduce your exposure to dust mites:

Keep home humidity below 70% - the level at which dust mites thrive.
Use mite-proof box spring, mattress, and pillow covers.
Try pillows with washable polyester stuffing.
Use a water vacuum once a week for best results.
Vacuum mattresses and any padded furniture thoroughly.
Be sure to vacuum under beds and under any padded furniture as well.
Replace shag carpeting with linoleum or wooden floors.
Replace upholstered furniture with wood, vinyl, or leather-based items.
Be sure to dust furniture before you vacuum.
Wash bed frames, sheets, and pillowcases in hot soapy water to kill mites.
Heat blankets in a clothes dryer to kill mites.
Remove mites from any furred or feathered pets.

Tea tree oil (melaleuca) and tannic acid have also been used for house dust mite control.

 

Studies from China, Malaysia, and South Korea, have shown that thyme, clove, lemongrass, and fennel fruit oils are effective in reducing indoor house dust mite populations.

 

Pennyroyal and basil oil vapors are potent acaricides and are also effective against dust mites.

 

The use of commercially available dust mite carpet sprays and powders is not recommended due to possible allergic side effects to humans and pets.

 

Chiggers are the larval stage of harvest mites and are external parasites of humans and other animals.  They crawl over plants and wait for a passing host to attach to (much like ticks).  They may remain on the host for a few days feeding on skin debris before dropping off.

 

Chiggers are very small and are seldom noticed.  They tend to prefer feeding in areas where clothing is tight on the skin.  This can include the crotch area, waistline, and armpits.  Ankles protected by athletic socks are a favorite place.  To avoid chiggers, spray clothing with a good repellent such as Deet® or permethrin.


The spider mite (pictured above right) can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Convergent Lady Beetle (Ladybug) (Hippodamia convergens)
Lacewing (Chrysoperla spp.)
Predatory Lady Beetle (Stethorus spp.)
Predatory Anthocorid (Pirate) Bugs (Orius spp.)
Predatory and Parasitic Mites (Various spp.)
Mite Midge (Feltiella acarisuga)


Suspect spider mites if you notice webby deposits and tiny holes on the under surfaces of leaves.  Infestations may cause leaves to yellow and die.

 

Spider mites prefer hot and dry conditions.  Under watering of plants can encourage attack. To prevent infestations of spider mites, mist plants frequently to keep them cool, and sponge wipe the underside of leaves to further reduce their numbers.

 

Because of their tendency to disperse, the use of predatory mites to control spider mites may be more effective under greenhouse conditions than in the garden. This is not always the case, however, as some predaceous mites perform poorly in greenhouses.

 

Many species of spider mites have developed resistance to the persistent use of acaricides.

 

To remove light infestations of spider mites, use a high-pressure sprayer for a knock-off effect.  To increase the effectiveness, you can also add an insecticidal soap to the water.

 

For severe infestations, use the sprayer method to reduce heavy populations of mites, and then use biological controls such as predatory mites to further reduce numbers.  Once established, biological controls may reproduce and provide ongoing protection against mites as long as pesticides are not applied which could reduce their survival.

 

Keep in mind that mild infestations can actually be triggered by the use of insecticides due to the exposure and death of natural enemies.

 

A 2% emulsion of basil or avocado oil can be used to repel spider mites.  Keep in mind that basil oil may also have a toxic effect on predaceous mites that would normally contribute to the mortality of spider mites.

Fish, petroleum, or vegetable oils can also be used to deter plant-feeding mites.

 

An example of a vegetable oil that is toxic to spider mites is Natur’l oil, which is organically grown emulsified soybean oil.

Garlic sprays or hot pepper wax offer protection against spider mites.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin are also effective against plant-feeding mites.

Neem tree extract sprays have also been used successfully to control plant-feeding mites.

Cinnamon oil (e.g. Cinnacure®) sprays have shown some success in controlling spider mite populations.

 

Some evidence suggests that vapors from selected plant essential oils such as caraway, cherry laurel, cumin, anise, fennel, garlic, cinnamon, chamomile, oregano, lemon eucalyptus, lemon balm, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, rose, spearmint, sandalwood, wormwood, thyme, and tansy are toxic to spider mites.

 

In Spanish and Hungarian experiments, sweet marjoram and rosemary plant essential oils were also able to increase mortality in spider mites.

 

In China, garlic straw has been used to repel spider mites that are pests of apple trees.

 

Extracts from thorn apple have also been used to manage spider mite populations on beans.

 

Some British and Chinese studies have indicated that selected entomopathogenic fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) have potential as biopesticides against spider mites under controlled conditions.

 

Greenhouse experiments have shown that soil growth mediums made from food waste (vermicomposts) were effective in reducing pest outbreaks of spider mites.  Plants were less attractive to mites and reduced their reproductive rates as well.

Use a cotton swab soaked in tea tree oil (melaleuca) to remove light infestations of mites from cats and dogs.

 

Diatomaceous earth and silica gel can both be used safely to disinfest storage bins from flour and grain mites.

 

Garlic products (especially garlic oil) have been used to protect wheat against mold and grain mites.

 

Studies out of South Korea and Italy concluded that fennel seed, clove bud, and pine oils can be toxic to some stored food mites such as the mold mite.

 

The ectoparasitic bee mite (i.e. Varroa jacobsoni = Varroa destructor), is considered the major pest of honeybee colonies around the world. It attaches itself externally to the bee’s abdomen, or behind the bee’s head, and feeds on its blood. They often infest larval brood chambers, and can quickly annihilate entire colonies. In warmer climates, where winters do not slow them down, colonies can be destroyed within months.

 

Varroa mites also have been found to vector viruses to honeybees (e.g. deformed wing virus), which causes bee mortality during pupation.

 

Honeybee tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi), live inside the tracheae and air sacs of adult bees, and can be responsible for heavy bee colony mortalities.  In North America, mite populations increase during the winter when bees are confined to their hives. They also prefer to attack drones and younger bees.  

Essential oils of anise, bitter orange, citrus, thyme, clove, marjoram, peppermint, savory, rosemary, lavender, laurel, bay, eucalyptus, citronella, sage, camphor, paraffin, rape, rue, and origanum, have all shown varying degrees of success in controlling the parasitic bee mite and/or the tracheal mite that ravage honeybee colonies. Of these botanicals, clove oil may be the most promising miticide.

In honeybee colonies, thymol (thyme oil) has been found to be an effective control agent against the protozoan bee parasite (Nosema apis). Other studies have shown that it is less effective under subtropical conditions and has shown some toxicity to honeybees. 

Menthol is registered as a fumigant for use in honeybee colonies to control bee and tracheal mites, but has also shown an undesirable high toxicity to bees unless used exactly as recommended. The timing of treatments is important when using menthol. Menthol crystals are also dependent on air temperatures for their effectiveness.


Formic acid, produced by ants, and found in many plants, has shown effectiveness in controlling bee and tracheal mites, and can be used to treat mite-infested brood if the brood combs are removed from the hive for treatment.

 

Formic acid treatments are labor intensive, require multiple applications, are somewhat dependent on temperature and dose for their effectiveness, and may pose a safety threat to applicators and beekeepers.  In addition, residues can suppress colony development, cause mortality in honeybee larvae and queens, and may contaminate bee products such as honey.

 

Some studies suggest that using a 50% formic acid treatment is less toxic to bees than at higher concentrations, and is still able to eliminate all mites on adult bees and about 90 – 95% of mites in sealed brood cells.

 

NOD Apiary Products Ltd, a Canadian firm, sells Mite-Away™, a product that uses formic acid pads to remove parasitic and tracheal mites from infested colonies.  It is approximately 95% effective in eliminating them.

 

Oxalic acid, an organic compound found naturally in plants, can be effective in reducing bee mites, and has been found to be minimally toxic to honey bee colonies. The treatment can, however, cause a significant decrease in worker activity, nursing behavior, and longevity.

 

Some studies suggest the use of tobacco smoke, or smoke from other plants, in lightly infested hives, can cause Varroa mites to dislodge from their bee hosts and fall to the bottom of the hive.  Sticky boards can then be placed on the hive bottom to trap these mites.  Using a fine mesh screen to separate mites from reattaching to bees may help reduce mite populations even more.

 

Smoke from other burned products such as coffee beans, corncobs, creosote, eucalyptus, orange peel, pecan leaves, pine needles, and mesquite have also been tested against tracheal mites.  From this group, creosote was the most effective, offering low, but significant mortality against adult mites.  Smoke did not seem to be effective against immature mite stages.  Adult bees seemed to experience an anesthetic reaction to the smoke, but did recover.

 

Thyme oil has shown some promise as a fumigant against Varroa mites with only small numbers of honeybee casualties being reported.

 

Neem extracts have also been used to control bee and tracheal mites. Neem oil (10%) can be applied directly to bees, or it can be added to sugar and given as oral bait. It is similar in effectiveness to formic acid. At higher doses, neem oil can cause the death of the queen.

 

Mexican studies have suggested that neem seed oil extracts that are sprayed directly on worker bee pupae can prevent Varroa mites from settling, resulting in their mortality.

 

Varroa mites can be managed with the use of pyrethroids; however, some mites have developed resistance to these acaricides (e.g. fluvalinate in products such as Apistan®), and residues have appeared in honey and beeswax products.

 

Pesticides including DDT, acaricides, fungicides, and antibiotics have all been found in honey and bee products worldwide.

 

Italian studies have shown that beeswax can be contaminated with acaracide residues despite the use of “organic” beekeeping practices.

 

Some research shows that heating honeybees to a temperature of 104 ° F. was effective in eliminating Varroa mites without harming the adult bees.

 

Some studies indicate that Varroa mites can be controlled by the use of entomopathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium spp.  As with some other control options, some bee sensitivity and mortality may result from their use, however.  Treatments with Beauveria alone do not seem to impact the health of the colony.

 

Field studies conducted in Florida and Texas suggest that combination treatments using miticides (e.g. Apistan®) and fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae) resulted in successful control of Varroa mites in honeybee colonies.

 

In some experiments, applications of the fungi Hirsutella thompsonii or Metarhizium anisopliae caused significant mortality of Varroa mites, and was found to be harmless to honeybee workers, brood, and queens at the concentrations used to control the mites. 

Bee mite traps (e.g. Phero Tech) to control Varroa jacobsoni are available commercially.

 

Some evidence from Germany and Argentina suggests some promise for using extracts of propolis to control Varroa mites.  The correct dose and concentration has yet to be determined. Propolis is a plant resin collected by bees that’s used as a kind of cement in the construction of their hives (bee glue).

 

Finnish and Indian experiments have shown that dusting honeybees with powdered sugar had a significant knockdown effect on Varroa mites after only about 18 hours of treatment. Hives with a screen floor rather than a traditional wooden bottom board also helped to reduce mite numbers.

 

Some parasitic bee mites (i.e. Tropilaelaps clareae) can be controlled with the application of garlic extract sprays.







MOSQUITOES


Mosquitoes are blood-feeding insects that are vectors of many human diseases including malaria, dengue, yellow fever, filariasis, West Nile virus, and encephalitis.

Mosquitoes have been indirectly responsible for more human deaths than any other creature that has ever lived on this planet.  About 40% of the world’s population is at risk of malaria alone.

To lessen your exposure to mosquitoes:

Dispose of old tires.
Clear clogged streams and roof gutters so they can run freely.
Empty any standing containers of water including pet watering bowls.

Drain saucers under potted plants.
Plug or drain tree holes so they won't hold water.
Use mosquito fish, goldfish, or guppies in watering troughs, water gardens or fishponds.

 

Of all the prevention methods that can be used to protect yourself and others from being bitten by mosquitoes, the most effective is to try to eliminate any sources of standing water in the area around where you live. 

 

Case in point, in a single puddle in the basement of an apartment building in Korea, scientists collected over 25,000 mosquito larvae in a single year.

 

California studies have shown that homeowners who failed to maintain their swimming pools or jacuzzis due to foreclosure or neglect have actually helped to increase the incidence of West Nile virus transmission in the area due to the female mosquito’s preference for stagnant waters for breeding.

 

Mosquitoes cannot breed in swimming pools or jacuzzis that are kept clean and chlorinated. After Hurricane Katrina advanced through New Orleans, thousands of flooded swimming pools that were abandoned were colonized by mosquito larvae, so it makes practical sense to keep up with your own pool and jacuzzi maintenance.

 

To further reduce exposure to mosquitoes, consider using fans or air-conditioning to cool your home (rather than leaving doors and windows open to the outside), and install mesh screens in windows and other entry points to help minimize their access.

 

Especially in areas where malaria is present, resist any temptation to sleep outdoors at night.

 

Adult mosquitoes are very fragile insects that require still or very limited air flow in order to bite. They can be easily repelled by the air motion produced by the circulating fan blades produced by a ceiling fan, or by a battery-operated portable fan unit.

 

Keep in mind that birdbaths, which may add a pleasing, natural element to your backyard, will also provide an almost ideal environment for the growth of mosquito larvae.

 

If you live near a cemetery, consider also that mosquitoes don’t mind breeding in water-filled urns containing flowers or in any other open containers they might find there.

 

Mosquitoes are very capable of breeding in septic tanks.  Be sure to cover vent pipes, exposed tanks, and manhole covers with appropriate materials such as window screening (for pipes), and plastic (for tanks and manholes).  Newer septic systems may already have protective plastic risers installed. Unrepaired cracks in the walls of septic tanks were associated with an increased presence of mosquito larvae.  In one Puerto Rican town, large numbers of Aedes mosquitoes found in septic tanks contributed to an island-wide dengue epidemic.

Although ultrasound is not effective in repelling mosquitoes, sound traps have been used to attract Aedes mosquitoes (450 Hz range).

 

Studies conducted in Cuba showed that ultrasonic devices were not only useless in repelling mosquitoes, but were also potentially harmful to humans due to the high intensity frequencies emitted by them.

Aedes mosquitoes can transmit dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and encephalitis virus to humans, and are more active during the day (especially around dawn and dusk).

Culex mosquitoes can transmit encephalitis, filariasis, and West Nile virus to humans, and are more active at night.

Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit filariasis, and are the primary transmitters of malaria. They are also more active at night.

Bear in mind that mosquitoes that transmit diseases to humans do not all respond the same way to deterrents or controls.

Carbon dioxide (from your expired breath) will attract most mosquitoes and other biting flies up to a range of about 50 feet.

 

Some preliminary evidence from Japan suggests that alcohol consumption may significantly attract more mosquitoes to you.

Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes are more attracted to skin odors than to CO
2.

 

Culex mosquitoes, on the other hand, are more attracted to CO2 than to skin odors.


Mosquitoes that are attracted to human skin odors are less attractive to body parts that have been recently washed with soap. Soap helps reduce the amount of bacteria, sweat, lactic acid, ammonia, and other odors that are normally present on the skin surface which are attractive to these mosquitoes.

 

Anopheles mosquitoes show a preference for night or predawn feeding, for feeding indoors, and for biting the ankles and feet of humans. They are very attracted to foot, sweat, and other skin odors. They are also attracted to the odor from Limburger cheese. Nylon stockings worn by human volunteers were also found to be highly attractive to these mosquitoes.

 

Studies have shown interesting behavioral variations among different species of Anopheles mosquitoes, with some (e.g. Anopheles gambiae) preferring to bite the feet of seated humans, and some (e.g. Anopheles arabiensis) preferring to bite the feet of motionless or sleeping humans. Biting activity is also higher if your feet are closer to the ground than if they are elevated.

 

Malaria mosquitoes are more attractive to adults than to children.  They also seem to be fonder of men than women.  In fact, in some areas, malaria is restricted to male adults, and is nearly non-existent in children and female adults. Especially indoors, these mosquitoes are more attracted to skin odors than to expired breath.

 

For malaria mosquitoes, research seems to indicate that the main attraction to humans seems to come from differences in the combination of body odor, heat, and moisture emanating from a given individual.

 

Indeed, one interesting study out of Kenya concluded that human breath may actually be a repellent to malaria mosquitoes.

 

Some Australian studies have found that wearing light-colored clothing can decrease your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes there.

 

There is some evidence to suggest that many Anopheles mosquitoes enter homes through open eaves of roofs rather than through doors or windows.

 

Investigations in western Kenya suggest that the vast majority of adult Anopheles mosquitoes were found in houses within 300 meters of the nearest larval habitat.

 

In Sri Lanka, high-risk villages are defined as homes that are within 750 meters from a potential mosquito breeding site such as a stream or river.

 

Poorly constructed housing may also allow easier access for mosquitoes who are seeking humans.

 

In African villages, the application of Deet® to the ankles and feet of villagers significantly reduced the biting rates of malaria mosquitoes.

 

Studies in Papua, New Guinea seemed to indicate that Anopheles mosquitoes that were denied access to the feet and ankles of humans, showed a strong biting preference for legs without hair. 

 

An investigative study out of Sudan seemed to indicate that almost twice as many malaria mosquitoes were attracted to women who were pregnant compared to those who weren’t.  In Gambian studies, the attraction rate was up to 4½ times higher.

 

A Swiss study also seemed to show that patients with an HIV infection were more attractive to biting mosquitoes.

 

Some studies have shown that individuals with blood type O are more likely to be infected, but are less likely to develop severe forms of malaria infection than those belonging to non-O blood groups. Other findings indicate that individuals of blood groups A, B and AB are more susceptible to Plasmodium falciparum infection as compared with individuals of blood group O.

 

Some evidence from the Ivory Coast suggests that Anopheles mosquitoes will wait until their human hosts have gone to sleep in their beds before they actually bite them. Studies in Cameroon and French Guiana have shown that Anopheles mosquitoes are most active in the early morning hours.  In Brazil, these mosquitoes were most active during the first hour after sunset.

 

Larger populations of Anopheles mosquitoes have been found in areas that have been disturbed by human activities.

 

Benin studies have shown that if traditional villages become more urbanized, more freshwater mosquito breeding sites are created, and this increases local populations of malarial mosquitoes.

 

Irrigation projects, for example, can provide additional habitats for larval mosquitoes to develop, and have been associated with an increase in the transmission of malaria and filariasis.  Indeed, malaria has been nearly eradicated in some provinces in China due to the draining of rice paddy fields which are traditionally kept flooded all year round.

 

In Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, artificial lakes or reservoirs created by the presence of dams are favorable breeding sites for malaria mosquitoes.

 

Much evidence suggests that deforestation or the replacement of natural landscapes with agricultural crops contributes to an increase in disease transmission due to elevated temperatures and humidities in these areas.

 

Brazilian studies also suggest that malaria transmission was strongly associated with land clearing and farming.

 

Keep in mind that even relatively small climate changes can have dramatic effects on the intensity of malarial transmission.

 

Kenyan studies seem to indicate that the use of fertilizers such as ammonium sulphate actually increased larval mosquito populations in rice fields.  It seems this particular fertilizer reduced the turbidity of the water, making it more attractive to ovipositing female mosquitoes.  Areas that were poorly drained (e.g. ditches, puddles, vehicle tracks) also contributed to rising numbers of malaria mosquitoes in Kenya.

 

In rural areas, mosquito abundance and malaria transmission is higher near waterlogged fields and communal village drinking-water tanks, which are often free of predators that would consume mosquito larvae.

 

Studies in Guinea indicated that the presence of domestic animals in the house (e.g. pigs) was associated with an increased abundance of malaria mosquitoes.

 

Ethiopian studies have shown a number of malaria risk factors for children.  These included using irrigated land, having a home with an earthen roof, domesticated animals living in the home, and open eaves.

 

Anopheles mosquitoes are best repelled by neem oils; Culex and Aedes mosquitoes respond best to Deet®.

 

Like Anopheles mosquitoes, Aedes mosquitoes are highly attracted to sweat and other human skin secretions.  When human skin residues were isolated in a test tube, it took only about 30 seconds for 90% of these mosquitoes to respond to it.

 

Aedes mosquitoes cannot survive very long periods under low humidity conditions.

 

Aedes mosquitoes seem to focus their biting efforts during times that humans show increased activity such as during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

In contrast to Anopheles mosquitoes, Aedes mosquitoes prefer biting their hosts outside of dwellings.

 

Some studies with Aedes mosquitoes have shown that females prefer to lay their eggs in water that is contaminated with bacteria (e.g. waste or lagoon water).  Oviposition decreased as water salinity increased, with almost no egg-laying occurring when salt concentrations were above 12%.

 

Brazilian studies indicate that mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever have a predisposition for men who are over 40 years of age.  Other studies from Brazil show that your chances of acquiring dengue also increase with age.

 

Brazilian studies have shown that dengue epidemics in the tropics are more prevalent during the rainy season, and are associated with higher rainfall and higher relative humidities.

 

Mosquito bed nets and curtains treated with pyrethroids (e.g. deltamethrin) have shown some success in repelling malaria-vectoring mosquitoes. Bed nets have not been shown to increase their mortality. Some mosquitoes have also become increasingly resistant to the continued use of these repellents.  Bed nets that are not treated with insecticides also provide protection against malaria mosquitoes, but are not as effective as treated nets.

 

Keep in mind that torn mosquito nets are likely to trap mosquitoes that enter allowing most of them to bite the sleeper and potentially transmit disease.

 

In Afghan refugee camps, canvas tents and plastic tarpaulins that were impregnated with pyrethroids also provided residual protection against malaria mosquitoes.

 

A study out of the Ivory Coast seemed to indicate that mosquito bed nets treated with Deet® showed good (>70%) success in repelling and killing malaria mosquitoes.

 

A 2% neem oil mixture or cream on exposed skin can provide up to twelve hours of protection against Anopheles mosquitoes.  Neem can also offer extended protection against Aedes and Culex mosquitoes as well.  Statistically, however, neem is less effective against Aedes mosquitoes.

 

Products containing neem are available commercially to the public.

 

Neem oil in kerosene lamps has been tested in India as an effective mosquito repellent and for malaria control.

 

In addition to topical and repellent relief provided by neem products, neem extracts have also shown in some studies an internal ability to reduce the development of Plasmodium parasites which are the causal agents of malaria.

 

Iranian studies have provided evidence that licorice extracts have also shown antiplasmodial activity against malaria.

 

In East and West Africa, smoke from the burning of selected plants (i.e. Hyptis suaveolins and Daniellia oliveri) helped to significantly reduce numbers of Anopheles and other indoor-biting mosquitoes.

 

In Ethiopia, smoke from the burning of fresh leaves of wild basil (Ocimum suave) has significant repellant abilities against both Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes.

 

In Australia, sandalwood extracts (e.g. New Mountain Sandalwood Mosquito Sticks® and NMS Botanical Repellent) offers several hours of protection against biting mosquitoes.

 

In Kenya, live potted plants of lemon basil (Ocimum americanum), lantana (Lantana camara), and lippia (Lippia ukambensis) offered additional repellent protection against Anopheles mosquitoes.

 

Leaf and root-bark extracts of the African herb, Veronia amygdalina (=Tree veronia or Bitter leaf) have shown anti-malarial activity in laboratory experiments.

 

In separate studies, lantana flower extracts (Lantana camara) were also repellent to Aedes mosquitoes.

         

When compared to Deet® and mosquito coils (which contain pyrethrins), the use of fresh or burning H. suaveolins, or using the smoke from the bark of D. oliveri, the plant odors provided at least as much repellency protection as the coils, but somewhat less than the Deet®.

 

Mosquito coils may induce mortality and reduce the amount of biting from mosquitoes and other biting flies, but keep in mind that burning coils can release toxic fumes such as formaldehyde which can be potentially dangerous to humans if inhaled.  Infants, children, the elderly, and the sick are most at risk. Some studies have linked exposure to mosquito coil smoke to an increased risk of lung cancer.

 

Electronic mosquito repellers that use sound to keep mosquitoes away have not been proven to work. Indeed, in some studies, certain sound frequencies can actually attract more mosquitoes to you.

 

The mosquito repellent, Mosiguard™ is available commercially in Europe, South Africa, and some other countries.  It contains citriodol, an extract of lemon eucalyptus oil, and has been shown to provide up to four hours of protection against malaria-vectoring mosquitoes.  A derivative of this botanical oil, quwenling, has been used as a “natural” repellent in China since 1978, and is repellent against mosquitoes, midges and biting flies.

 

In contrast, the Mosquito Guard Patch, an adhesive-based sticker used on textiles that contains lemon eucalyptus oil, was not effective in providing relief from biting mosquitoes.

 

Iranian and Greek studies have also shown that lemon essential oil can be an effective repellent against malaria and dengue mosquitoes.

 

Other compounds extracted from eucalyptus have been found to be very effective against both Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes when compared to Deet®.

 

Another mosquito repellent which goes under the trade name, Bio-Skincare™ has a similar repellent effect to malaria mosquitoes as Mosiguard™.  It contains the oils of several herbs including coconut, jojoba, and rapeseed, but is not yet widely available commercially.  It is currently marketed in South Africa.

 

If you apply Deet® to your skin as a repellent, be sure to use it sparingly at concentrations under 40%, and keep in mind that some sensitive individuals may react allergically to these chemicals. For children, use only very low concentrations (under 10%).  Be aware that some children have experienced encephalopathy and seizures from its application.

 

Never ever apply Deet® to exposed broken skin.  I did this accidentally once while I was hiking in the Belizean rainforest, and started feeling very lightheaded because the chemicals got into my bloodstream through a scratch and affected my nervous system.  The effect was temporary (about two hours), but I learned a valuable lesson.

 

Deet® can be used on clothes instead of on skin to lessen potential toxic side effects and reactions to this chemical.  Cotton clothes can be repellent to mosquitoes for up to several weeks.

 

3M Corporation markets a product called 3M Ultrathon® which is a very effective, though expensive, timed-release mosquito repellent used by the U.S. Army for over ten years.  It provides up to thirteen hours of protection and contains only 33% Deet®.

 

Deet® can also be used as a larvicide against mosquitoes when added to artificial containers such as flower vases and other potential breeding sites. 

 

A relatively new topical insect repellent that has been available in Europe and Australia since 1998 is called Bayrepel®.  Other commonly used names for this product include picaridin, Autan Repel®, and KBR 3023.

 

Bayrepel® was registered as a “reduced-risk” chemical by the EPA in 2000, but is not yet currently available commercially in the US.  Bayer Corporation has received permission to register and market this repellent in the US, however, and it will likely be available soon.

 

Bayrepel® has been field tested and is effective against a wide range of insects and arthropods including mosquitoes, midges, stableflies, house flies, blackflies, and ticks.

 

In field tests with volunteers, Bayrepel® was similar in effect to Deet®, but less irritating to the skin.  At a formulation of 20%, Bayrepel® offered similar protection (from 7 – 12 hours of biting relief) to 3M Ultrathon® (33-35% Deet®). 

 

Studies done in Burkina Faso showed that Bayrepel® actually outperformed Deet® in comparison tests against malaria mosquitoes.

 

Terminix® produces a personal diffuser (ALLCLEAR® Sidekick Mosquito Repeller) that has been proven in scientific experiments to be about 90% effective in reducing the biting rates of Culex and Aedes mosquitoes. It is herbal-based, and its main ingredients are eugenol and geraniol.    

 

Mosquitoes that feed at night are more active during a full moon, and are attracted to light traps.  Some studies have shown that Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes prefer white lights, while Culex seems to like the color blue the most.

 

In South Korea, ultraviolet black light traps have been effective in capturing large numbers of Anopheles mosquitoes at night.

Some evidence from India suggests that mosquitoes were most attracted to the white color of a clear glass bulb, and were least attracted to bulbs that emit red and green lights.

More mosquitoes can be caught with combination light, CO2, and octenol (cow breath) traps.


Dry ice is a good source of CO
2 to attract mosquitoes. The fermentation of refined sugar can also be used as a source of CO2 to attract mosquitoes. Molasses can be used to replace the sugar source to attract malaria mosquitoes.

The Sears Skeeter Eater® is an example of an improved zap trap which uses octenol cartridges to attract mosquitoes.

Large numbers of mosquitoes can be attracted to traps that utilize technologies that actually produce attractants such as CO2, water vapor, octenol, and heat.

 

Most mosquito traps generate CO2 from either propane or from a CO2 gas cylinder.  The advantage of propane is that it also simultaneously produces heat and moisture, which helps to attract even more mosquitoes.

 

American Biophysics Corp. manufactures the Mosquito Magnet®, which is an example of an advanced propane-powered mosquito trap that uses combinations of CO2, water vapor, octenol, and heat to lure mosquitoes.  It was found to be very effective compared with other traps.  So effective, in fact, that it is used by some countries (e.g. India) for sampling mosquito populations.

 

Be sure to arrange traps at least thirty feet away from areas where people get together; if traps are placed too close to dwellings, for example, mosquitoes will be able to locate you more effectively and you will not be happy.

 

If you decide to use traps, be sure to follow label instructions and the manufacturers’ recommendations.  Propane is a flammable gas and should be used with caution; CO2 is not combustible, but cylinders can explode in the presence of high heat or a fire.

 

BioEcotech is a Malaysian company that manufactures an effective mosquito repelling lamp (Ecolight™) that can be used indoors to keep mosquitoes away. A yellow pigment that coats the bulb filters out the UV light that attracts mosquitoes.


Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to deter mosquitoes and deny harborage in these areas.

Smear lemongrass, clove oil, avocado oil, oil of turmeric, or basil oil on skin to repel mosquitoes. Fruit-scented sage oil can also provide some protection.

 

The burning of linalool and geraniol candles can be effective mosquito repellents.  Linalool is an alcohol found naturally in many flowers and spice plants. Geraniol is also a naturally produced plant-based alcohol which is used in perfumes and flavoring agents.

Mixing 4% citronella oil into 96% Vaseline will give you about three hours of protection.

Citrus-based sprays and garlic extracts have been used successfully to control mosquitoes.

Myrrh burned as incense will repel mosquitoes.

Plant sweet, holy, or lemon basil plants indoors to keep mosquitoes away.

Avon's Skin-so-soft® bath oil is actually a fairly effective mosquito repellent (contains vanillin, coumarin, and piperonal).  Research seems to indicate it is more effective against Aedes mosquitoes.

Botanical insect repellents such as citronella, cedar wood, myrtle, clary and lavender extracts are effective deterrents.

Oils of birch, bluestem grass, cinnamon, fennel, geranium, thyme, pine, rosemary, morning glory, bitter melon, spearmint, mugwort, and yarrow are also potent mosquito repellents.

 

Indian studies indicate that both pine and citronella oils can provide about nine hours of protection against both Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes.

 

Thai studies suggest that topical angelica (dong quai) extracts can provide repellent relief from a wide range of mosquitoes, with no allergic or local skin reactions being observed.

 

Alcoholized extracts of wild mint may provide up to five hours of protection against some species of mosquitoes.

Both salicylic acid (aspirin's main ingredient) and even Ben Gay® have been used as deterrents.

 

Perfumes and colognes containing bisabolene will repel mosquitoes.

 

Citronella candles are more effective than citronella incense in reducing your exposure to mosquitoes.

 

Citronella-based soaps such as Skeeter Cheater® are also available commercially, and offer several hours of repellent protection against mosquitoes.

 

In contrast, citronella or geraniol-based wristband mosquito repellents (e.g. Super Band™ Wristband and PIC® Citronella Plus Wristband) did not provide significant protection against biting mosquitoes.

 

Catnip oil has been shown to be repellent, irritant, and toxic to adult Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes.

 

Pure catnip oil is too strong to be used as a topical agent. It is actually much more potent than Deet so less can be used, but a safe formulation for a person has not yet been determined.  In the meantime, it can be applied to clothing to avoid possible unpleasant side effects.  It may provide up to eight hours of relief against mosquitoes.

 

Some evidence out of Thailand suggests that extracts from celery seeds can be an effective short-term (up to 5 hours) topical repellent against Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. No skin irritation or other side effects were observed in volunteers.

 

Indeed, a celery-based topical product (G10) has shown excellent protective ability (compared to Deet®) against a wide variety of adult mosquitoes including Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex. This product, however, is not yet available commercially.

 

Many flying insects, including mosquitoes, are repelled by high airflows. Adult mosquitoes are very fragile insects, so the use of fans and blowers will discourage them from landing on you (typical vent-style air conditioning alone will not protect you unless it is high force).  I personally use a small battery-powered fan (aimed at my head) to sleep safely at night when I spend time in rainforests, and this has proven to be a very effective preventative especially against night-feeding malaria mosquitoes.

 

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that consuming large doses of vitamin B-1 (thiamine) can somehow repel mosquitoes by causing perspiration to smell differently than usual (i.e. like yeast).  This could possibly work for some people some of the time, but is not supported by any scientific studies.

 

Indeed, the MosquitoPatch, a transdermal patch that contains 300mg of vitamin B-1 does not offer significant protection against biting mosquitoes.

 

Interestingly, there is also some suggestive research from Ghana, Mozambique, Canada, and Australia that supplementation with vitamin A (retinol) may offer some resistance to infection from malaria mosquitoes.  Compared to healthy individuals, those who are infected with malaria have much lower serum retinol levels in their blood. A study out of Burkina Faso showed that combining vitamin A with zinc reduced fevers and malarial incidents among children there.

 

Common table salt can be added to unused outdoor containers to reduce populations of mosquito larvae and pupae.


Peel oil extracts of orange, lemon, or lime will also control mosquito larvae.

 

Other plant essential oils derived from peppermint, turpentine, thyme, caraway, coriander, chili pepper, celery, cinnamon, curry leaf, anise, basil, cashew nut, chinaberry, fennel, nutmeg, fenugreek, juniper, mullilam, zedoary, castor bean seed, sandalwood, soursop, gotu kola, Indian gooseberry, grapefruit, rosemary, sugar apple, wood apple, Croton spp., eucalyptus, jujube, and even coffee grounds have all been used to eliminate mosquito larvae.

 

Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, is a very effective mosquito larvicide.

 

Asparagus root extracts have shown an ability to induce mortality in the eggs, larvae, and adults of mosquitoes.

 

Some laboratory experiments have shown that the fruit of paprika (Capsicum annuum) is toxic to the egg, larval, and pupal stages of the malaria mosquito.

 

Garlic, ginger, black pepper, neem, bitter melon, black nightshade (berries), Hibiscus root, and Ginkgo bilboa extracts have also been used to control mosquito larvae.

 

Water treated with .15% borax is also larvicidal to mosquitoes.

 

Extracts of avocado and watermelon have been shown to be toxic to Anopheles mosquito larvae.

Guppies have been used successfully to control the larvae of some Culex species that breed in sewage pits where mosquito fish may not survive.  They have also been used to stop mosquito breeding in polluted drains in some cities in India.

 

In Brazil, Siamese fighting fish have successfully reduced larval Aedes mosquito levels in concrete water tanks and other large domestic water containers.

 

In Louisiana and Honduras, young turtles have been used to eliminate mosquito larvae in water-storage tanks, storm-water catch basins, and in holding ponds.

 

Korean studies have shown that plant extracts of Kigelia pinnata and Ruta chalapensis were larvicidal to Aedes and Culex mosquitoes.

 

In Brazil and Bangladesh, experiments have shown that Aedes and Culex mosquito larvae are susceptible to plant extracts from marigold (Tagetes sp.). 

 

The predaceous mosquito (Toxorhynchites splendens) is used in Asia to control larval populations of Aedes aegypti.

 

In India, speedboats are sometimes used to help prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in infested canals. Mosquitoes survive poorly in waters that are agitated by the action of waves or winds. They prefer stagnant pools for this reason.

 

In Honduras, when homeowners cleaned their washbasins and drums with a combination of chlorine bleach and detergent, a sharp decline was noted in the number of eggs, larvae, and pupae of Aedes aegypti that were able to survive and breed in them. Puerto Rican studies have also suggested that diluted household bleach is very effective in reducing and eliminating the eggs of Aedes aegypti in outdoor water drums and other artificial containers.

 

In central Columbia, the use of netted lids over large water-storage containers significantly reduced mosquito oviposition and larval population levels of Aedes aegypti.

 

In Vietnam, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, and Australia, predaceous copepods, corixid bugs, and fish, have all been used in community-based control programs against the larvae of Aedes aegypti.

 

On islands in French Polynesia, the use of polystyrene beads in covered wells helped reduce adult mosquito populations by 65%.  Evidence from India and Sri Lanka also suggests that the use of floating layers of polystyrene beads in water filled pits was effective in suffocating Anopheles mosquito larvae and pupae.

 

In Australia, tadpoles reduced populations of larval Culex mosquitoes in fresh water ponds. Tadpoles like to feed on mosquito eggs as well.

 

In Sweden, predatory diving beetles (Dytiscidae) have also been used to control Culex mosquito larvae in ponds.

 

The tadpole shrimp (Triops spp.), and the mud loach (Misgurnus mizolepsis) have been used successfully to reduce populations of larval mosquitoes in temporary aquatic habitats such as ponds.

 

The microsporidium (Edhazardia aedis) a protozoan, has shown some success in field trials against the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti).

 

Studies from Cuba, Argentina, and Mexico concluded that some parasitic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema rarum) were able to infect and kill developing Anopheles and Culex mosquito larvae under laboratory and field conditions.

 

Surface oils and films are available commercially from companies (e.g. Henkel Corporations’ Agnique®) that specialize in larval and pupal mosquito control.  These surfactants are applied to the surfaces of standing water, and kill larvae and pupae by clogging their breathing tubes.  They can also cause ovipositing female adults to drown because of the lower water surface tension. They are made from plant oils, and are much less likely to be toxic to other organisms than other oils such as kerosene.

 

Surface films are biodegradable, and have been showed to be relatively safe to non-target invertebrates such as shrimp and snails, and to vertebrates including fish and humans.  They can be used safely for mosquito control in a variety of habitats including marshes, pastures, ditches, sewers, waste ponds, and tree holes.

 

Surface film controls can also be combined with other larvicides (e.g. Bactimos®) for faster control of mosquito larvae.

 

Experiments in Israel, Mali, West Africa, and Florida revealed that attractive sugar baits containing boric acid or eugenol were highly effective in reducing adult Anopheles, Culex, and Aedes mosquito populations.

 

Malaysian studies suggest that cigarette butt waste can be an effective control agent against mosquito larvae.

 

Some companies (e.g. WellMark International) have marketed an insect growth regulator (e.g. methoprene) for control of late stage mosquito larvae.  Methoprene (e.g. Altosid) induces mortality by preventing larvae from successfully pupating and becoming adults.

 

Methoprene degrades quickly in water, has shown low toxicity to birds, mammals or fish, and is more target specific than the more widely used insecticidal sprays. There is, however, some evidence that suggests that frogs, which feed on mosquitoes, and perhaps other amphibians, may be negatively affected by the use of these growth regulators.

 

Brazilian studies have shown that insect growth regulators (e.g. triflumuron) have shown some promise in inhibiting the ability of adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to reproduce.

 

In South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka, studies have shown that another insect growth regulator, pyriproxyfen, was effective in reducing the number of malaria mosquito larvae and adults when applied to water filled pits and pools.

 

Pyriproxyfen was also toxic against Culex and Aedes mosquito larvae in studies done in Egypt, India, and Argentina.

 

Other growth regulators (i.e. diflubenzuron) have been effective in reducing populations of Anopheles and Aedes mosquito larvae.

 

Novaluron, another growth regulator, is effective in controlling larval Culex populations of polluted-water mosquitoes in urban areas.

 

Some companies (e.g. Summit Chemical) market a mosquito larvicide (e.g. Bactimos®) that contains the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis that are able to perforate the gut of Anopheles mosquito larvae that feed on them inducing mortality.  The larvicide can be in the form of a briquette. Some evidence suggests about thirty days of protection can be provided if there is sustained release of the bacteria into infested pools.

 

In Australia, granular, water-dispersed formulations of Bacillus thuringiensis (e.g. Vectobac WDG) were also effective against Aedes and Culex mosquito larvae in freshwater systems in Queensland.  Different formulations were similarly successful against Aedes mosquito larvae tested in Malaysia, Anopheles and Culex larvae sampled in Turkey, and in Culex larvae tested in Kauai, Hawaii. Water quality does not seem to be affected by these treatments. 

 

If water storage containers are treated with this formulation, and are then covered to  restrict sunlight exposure (which reduces efficacy of the bacteria), extended periods up to several months of nearly 100% mortality of mosquito larvae can be achieved.

 

In Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, and Thailand, Culex and Aedes mosquitoes were controlled with the use of repeated treatments of a larvicide that contains the bacteria, Bacillus sphaericus and Bacillus thuringiensis.  Similar success was achieved against Anopheles mosquito larvae in Guatemala, Honduras, Eritrea, and Kenya.

 

Bacillus sphaericus is typically used only in freshwater systems, whereas Bacillus thuringiensis can be applied in estuaries as well as freshwater environments.

 

Studies on Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes field populations in France, China, India, Tunisia, Thailand, and Brazil, have, however, revealed some developing resistance to the use of this bacterium as a control agent.

 

Some Indian studies have indicated that Bacillus sphaericus is ineffective against Aedes mosquito larvae.  Indian evidence also suggests that exposure to sunlight can reduce the ability of these bacteria to reproduce successfully which diminishes their ability to attack mosquito larvae over time.

 

AgraQuest Inc. manufactures a fungus-based mosquito larvicide (Laginex®) which offers several weeks of good control of Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes in pools.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) have been used to control mosquito larvae when used in conidial suspensions applied to water surfaces.  Some studies of adults that were infected with this fungus on resting sites have shown that they exhibited reduced reproductive rates (produced fewer eggs), and were also less inclined to bite.

 

Exposure of adult mosquitoes (e.g. Aedes aegypti) to selected fungi (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana) on impregnated cloths suspended in vegetable oil, has shown some success in increasing mortality and reducing populations of these insects. Adult malaria mosquitoes (e.g. Anopheles gambiae) took smaller blood meals and their feeding and reproductive rates were also reduced when exposed to fungi.

 

Fungal sprays of Metarhizium anisopliae in clay pots have also generated positive control results since many adult mosquito species including Anopheles prefer pots for resting sites.

 

 









SCALES


Scales are very small insects that secrete a waxy or scale-like covering that covers their bodies.

Scales are less mobile than mealybugs, and, indeed, adults can feed in one spot for their entire lives.

Scales injure plants by sucking the sap. Heavy encrustations can eventually kill the host.

 

Scales often can be found in reduced numbers in monoculture systems such as on Christmas tree farms or within fruit orchards.

 

Scales can also transmit viruses such as grapevine leafroll to some crop plants such as grapes which can cause disease.

 

Scale infestations often occur when pesticides are applied for control purposes.  This practice frequently eliminates the scale insect’s natural enemies which causes scale populations to multiply at alarming rates.

Scale insects can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Convergent Lady Beetle (Ladybug) (Hippodamia convergens)
Lacewing (Chrysoperla spp.)
Predatory Mite (Euseius spp.)
Predatory Lady Beetles (Various spp.)
Parasitoid Wasps (Various spp.)


Ladybugs that have been reared on scales (by insectaries) are less likely to disperse in your garden than those collected in the wild.

Use fish, petroleum, mineral, or vegetable oils sprayed in an emulsion of water to control scale infestations.

Use the pressurized spray from a garden hose to remove light infestations of scales.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin have also been used to suppress scales.
  Indeed, citrene, which is a component of citrus peel oil, can actually dissolve away the waxy secretions these insects produce to protect themselves.

Sticky traps, tapes, and adhesives can be used to control and repel scales.

Hot pepper wax has been shown to be an effective repellent against scales.

Certain ants have a tendency to protect scales from their natural enemies due to their desire to "milk" them of sweet secretions which nourish colony members. To reduce ant numbers, you might consider using a bait station in these circumstances. For more information about these baits, see the section under
ANTS.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana) have been used with some success in biocontrol programs against soft scales. Nymphs are more vulnerable to infection than adults. Patience may be required as it may take several weeks to reduce populations significantly.

 

Research with insect growth regulators (e.g. pyriproxyfen) has shown them to be particularly effective against early instar stages of scales.

 

Some evidence suggests that the use of insect growth regulators (e.g. buprofezin and pyriproxyfen) used to control scale insects (e.g. the citrus red scale) may have a negative impact on its natural enemy, the ladybird beetle.  Indeed, the impact of these regulators on non-target species has not as yet been fully determined.







SCORPIONS


Like spiders, scorpions are efficient, general predators of insects. They are venomous, and while they do not ordinarily attack people, they will sting quickly if disturbed.

Scorpions are active at night, and during the day tend to hide in concealed areas. They do not frequently enter homes due to their preference for warmer conditions.

Scorpions become very sluggish when temperatures drop below 70
° F.

Disturbances to their habitat, such as from flooding, may increase the likelihood of their entering homes.

To reduce your exposure to scorpions:

Wear shoes at night indoors and when walking outside your home.
Check your shoes or slippers before putting them on.
Check your bed before you get into it.
Shake out clothes and towels before using them.
Wear gloves when moving debris or working in your backyard.
Remove woodpiles and rocks from the area around your home.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel scorpions and deny harborage in these areas.

 

Pyrethroids (e.g. deltamethrin) can be used in combination with silica gel or diatomaceous earth as an effective indoor repellent against scorpions.





 



SILVERFISH AND FIREBRATS


Silverfish (pictured above left) are very primitive, wingless insects that feed on starchy substances such as books, wallpaper, clothing, and curtains.

Silverfish prefer damp conditions closer to the soil such as in basements and porches, and are less abundant in upper stories of homes.

Firebrats (pictured above right) are similar in form to silverfish, but prefer much warmer and moister conditions.

Firebrats are often found in very hot areas near furnaces, boilers, or steam pipes, and will not even lay eggs unless the air temperature is at least 98
° F.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel silverfish and firebrats, and deny harborage in these areas.

Organic Plus Inc. (Organic Plus®) is a desiccant registered for home and garden use for silverfish control.

Boric acid powder can also be used as a treatment against firebrats and silverfish.

Pyrethrin can be used in combination with silica gel or diatomaceous earth as an effective indoor repellent against both silverfish and firebrats.

 

Woodstream Corporation’s Victor Poison-Free Ant & Roach Killer uses a 4% Japanese mint essential oil blend as an effective knockdown treatment for silverfish.



   

 


SPIDERS


Spiders are good general predators of insects in home gardens.

 

Most spiders, especially those that form webs, are highly susceptible to the effects of herbicides and insecticides, and their populations are often reduced significantly.  Even in areas that have not been sprayed, residual chemical drift can occur which can kill large numbers of beneficial insect-consuming spiders.

 

Pyrethroids, which are naturally occurring botanical insecticides made from chrysanthemums, are also harmful to spider populations.

To maximize the benefits of insect-eating spiders in your garden, do not use any pesticides.

 

When gardens have more spiders, there are fewer pests and less plant damage.

 

Studies have shown that the mere presence of spider silk and feces on plants can inhibit feeding in some insects, even if spiders do not consume them directly.

Mixed vegetable gardens have larger spider populations.

Flowers do not affect the number of spiders.

Intercropping and using mulches will increase the number of soil dwelling spiders.

 

All spiders are naturally venomous, the vast majority of them being harmless to people.  There are some notable exceptions, however.  Unless you are a trained scientist (or in the company of one) who can identify which is which, you should always exercise caution around them, and this definitely includes not handling them.

 

There have been isolated and very rare reports of spiders (e.g. the green lynx) that have the ability to spit venom from their fangs as a defensive reaction against predators (or humans), so this should give you a clue to be on your guard.

 

The female black widow spider (pictured above left) prefers to build her web in dark, dry, protected areas close to the ground.  The webs are used to trap their prey.  They are venomous, but are not aggressive towards humans or pets, preferring to remain still or retreating when provoked.  The males do not bite.

 

For black widows, one of their favorite foods is fire ants.

Because black widows prefer to live around humans in homes and buildings, they sometimes hide in clothing, shoes, or under other objects.  A bite usually occurs when clothing is applied and the spider is pressed against the skin surface.

 

Be sure to shake out clothing and shoes before wearing if left on the floor overnight.

 

Although bites are seldom fatal, seek medical attention if you believe this spider has bitten you.  Infants, children, the elderly, and the sick are most at risk.

To reduce your exposure to black widows:

Educate your children about black widows.
Encourage children to leave spiders alone, and not to tease or provoke them.

Avoid putting fingers into dark, inaccessible areas before checking for spiders.
Wear gloves when working around woodpiles or other items outdoors.
Use a broom or vacuum to remove visible webs if necessary.
Keep storage boxes and containers sealed to prevent access by spiders.
Vacuum frequently to pick up stray spiders.
Seal and caulk cracks and crevices in your home or facility to restrict access.
If necessary, use a flashlight to check for the presence of black widows at night.
Clean floors and remove debris indoors, especially in areas where children play.
 
Like black widows, the brown recluse or violin spider (pictured above center) is venomous, and prefers dark, undisturbed areas near the ground for their webs.

 

Unlike the black widow, however, the brown recluse hunts its prey away from the web.  Also unlike the black widow, these spiders don’t mind scavenging on dead insects they might come across.

 

Brown recluse spider bites are seldom fatal, bites occur in a similar manner to black widows, and most can be treated with antibiotics.  Infants, children, the elderly, and the sick are most at risk.

 

These spiders are nocturnal, actively searching for prey before returning to their web.  Indoors, they often hide in boxes temporarily for protection.  Outdoors, they can be found under rocks.

 

Brown recluse spiders are typically not aggressive towards people.  In fact, in a six month study, investigators found over 2,000 brown recluse spiders living in a large house in Kansas, and not a single human had been bitten.

 

To lessen your chances of being bitten, you can also use the same tips mentioned above for controlling black widows.

 

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel spiders and deny harborage in these areas.

Like many insects, web-building spiders that feed at night tend to be attracted to artificial lights.







TERMITES


Most of the structural damage caused by insects is done by either subterranean or drywood termites.

Most subterranean termites (pictured above) infest wood only where there is wood-soil contact. They typically live and nest underground, enter structures or dead trees to feed, and must maintain contact with the soil to survive.  They often migrate between the soil and structures through mud tubes.

 

If there is a source of water such as a leaking pipe inside a structure, complete colonies of subterranean termites may take up permanent residence there.

 

Suspect termites if you see bunches of discarded insect wings near window sills or doorways.

 

Formosan termites, which are an invasive subterranean form in North America, create significantly larger colonies, do more damage, and may actually nest permanently in homes, trees, and other structures rather than just feed on them. Because they sometimes build aerial nests, they cannot be treated with standard soil treatments. These nests can be managed, however, with methods used to control drywood termites.

 

Drywood termites, on the other hand, do not require a ground contact but usually require some moisture in the wood to flourish. Workers live their life cycle deep inside wood, are difficult to detect, and are rarely seen. They will typically infest the most exposed areas of your home, especially where decay is noticeable.

 

On quiet nights, homeowners who have acute hearing may actually be able to listen in on the sounds of termites feeding within their walls.  If you suspect their presence, try tapping on the walls – if they are there, the workers will typically bang their heads back at you in response.  This is their way of saying, “Leave us alone, we’re trying to eat here!”

 

Unlike ants or drywood termites, subterranean termites have mostly lost their ability to climb smooth vertical surfaces such as glass.  Although these termites can still build galleries of soil over these surfaces eventually, the use of smooth surfaces at structural entry points does seem to slow down the progress of these termites into buildings, thus offering some degree of short-term control.

Because treatment methods vary dramatically depending on which of these basic "types" you have, it is recommended that you initially seek out a pest control operator, entomologist, or other trained professional to assist you in identifying your specific termite problem.

Please bear in mind that some of the methods mentioned here are beyond the scope of most home and building owners to perform, and require resources you will typically not have access to without proper licenses, professional experience, etc. For infestations, I would definitely recommend that you allow your local pest control operators to assist you in control and remediation. There are, however, other methods that will help to discourage termites from attacking your home or facility, and these are mentioned below.

To reduce exposure to termites, keep your home well sealed, watertight, and protect exposed beams from the elements.

As humidity is reduced, wood damage and termite survival decrease.

The best time to treat any type of structure is during the construction process when all the wood is accessible.

 

Rigid foam in contact with the soil can prevent building foundations from having soil contact.

 

Mulches (organic or inorganic) will attract subterranean termites to your home.  Pine seems to be preferred, while cedar is least favored, but keep in mind that moisture is the main attractant.  Use bare soil around foundations and structures instead.  Termites will use mulches as a pathway to cross chemical soil barriers to access homes. Mulches treated with an active fungus (e.g. Metarhizium anisopliae), however, can reduce the suitability of the mulch as a habitat for termites.

Pre-treat new home wood construction with borates to make homes more termite resistant. The use of borates can protect a house against subterranean termites by creating a "barrier" of treated wood around an entire structure.  Borate-treated wood can remain termite repellent for several years.

 

Borate-treated logs can be purchased to construct and protect log cabins.  They offer long-term resistance to damage from termites and other wood-boring insects.

 

Some large companies including U.S. Borax and Louisiana Pacific have made commercially available termite-resistant building materials using borates for new home construction.

 

Risk factors associated with termite invasions include homes built with wood frames on a monolithic slab, short gutter downspouts that discharge close to foundations, and lack of an inspection gap.

Borate solutions can be sprayed or brushed onto untreated wood. The liquid then soaks into the wood and is protective against subterranean and drywood termite attacks. Deeper infestations are best treated by direct wood injections into termite galleries.

Crawl spaces, attics, and wall voids can be treated with borate foams which are more effective than foggers.

Older homes can also be treated with borate sprays or injections to make them more termite resistant.

Boric acid dusts have also been shown to be effective termiticides.

Subterranean termites can also be controlled with the use of non-toxic baits such as boric acid (e.g. Bora-Care®) within an attractant such as moistened corrugated cardboard.

Boric acid, Bora-Care®, and boric acid termite baits, can all be purchased commercially by the general public.  Homeowners can now bait their own termites and hope for good results.

Borates are relatively non-toxic to humans and animals, are odorless, do not discolor wood, do not vaporize, do not provoke allergic skin responses, do not cause cancer, and are quite safe if properly used. Treated wood is also fire resistant when large enough concentrations are used. Keep in mind that borates are also herbicides, so if they leach from the wood, they have the potential to kill plants as well. 

 

Horse chestnut, tree-of-heaven, Alaska cedar, teak, eucalyptus, and neem are rarely infested by termites. Of these, eucalyptus is considered moderately resistant.

 

Some woods that are more susceptible to attack by termites are pecan, pine, sugar maple, red gum, oak, larch, and birch.

 

For termites, their favorite foods include toilet paper, paper towels, and cork.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel drywood termites and deny harborage in these areas.

Clove bud and garlic oil is repellent to subterranean termites.

Some studies have shown that catnip oil is repellent to subterranean termites.  Termites tend to stop tunneling when they encounter it, but mortality is not very high because workers tend to avoid treated areas.  The residual effects of the oil also do not appear to last very long in the soil.

 

Chinese experiments suggest that the leaf extracts of Spanish Flag are a good repellent, can inhibit feeding, and are moderately toxic to eastern subterranean termites.

 

Cinnamon oil, black pepper seed, and orange oil extract treatments have also been found to be toxic to termites.

 

Orange oil is extracted from orange peels and acts by directly contacting and dissolving the outside protective layer of an insect’s exoskeleton causing death by dehydration. Oil vapors can also act as a fumigant and slow down or prevent termites from feeding. For termite control, it is typically injected into known termite galleries within a structure. Orange oil can be a good short-term solution to drywood termite infestations, but because the oil does not leave residues, it is possible that your home or structure can be re-infested in the future.
 
Myrrh resins (an incense) will deter termites.

The presence of ant colonies has been shown to be repugnant to termites.

Wood protected with stainless steel sleeves offers protection from subterranean termites.

Crushed basaltic or granite sand barriers (e.g. Live Oak Structural) are effective deterrents. Sand barriers at least 4" in thickness combined with the use of larger sand particles have been shown to be impenetrable to the subterranean termite.

 

Salted barriers have been used successfully in Hawaiian homes.

Glycol compounds found in pen inks have actually induced subterranean termites to follow trails.

 

Some experiments have shown that sesame seed oil seed extracts reduced tunneling and survival of the Formosan subterranean termite in treated sand.

Liquid nitrogen (e.g. Tallon Pest Control's Blizzard System®) has been used as an effective extreme cold treatment for drywood termite infestations. Nitrogen is used primarily to treat wall voids, and is not utilized for entire structures. It is approximately 99% effective in removing drywood termites.

Microwaves have been used successfully to heat wood (and drywood termites) to lethal levels. They treat local areas only, and offer about 95% protection against drywood termites. Keep in mind that wood may be susceptible to being warped or burned when using this control option.

Etex, Ltd.'s Electrogun® uses high voltage electricity for limited infestations of drywood termites. The Electrogun also treats local areas only, and has claimed a minimum 90% mortality rate against drywood termites. As with microwaves, some wood damage is possible after treatment.

Managed air temperature extremes can be used to control drywood termites in homes.

Isothermics, Inc. Heatwave® involves directing hot air through flexible ducts into a structure by means of special forced-air systems with the object of heating wood to at least 130
° F., the lethal temperature for most insects. For large structural drywood termite infestations, heat is the only non-chemical treatment that is currently available. Heat treatments are at least 95% effective.

In laboratory and field studies, subterranean termite workers were found to be attracted to CO
2, which could potentially be used in bait formulations in the future.

Ensystex markets a bait that uses a chitin synthesis inhibitor (Exterra's Labyrinth®) to control subterranean termites. The active ingredient is diflubenzuron. Though Exterra is not available commercially, you can contact your local pesticide operator for information on its application.

 

Bayer Environmental Services also uses diflubenzuron as the main component against subterranean termites (Bayer’s Outpost™).

 

Hexaflumuron (Recruit™), diflubenzuron (Dimilin®), noviflumuron, and chlorfluazuron have all been used as chitin inhibitors within baits to control subterranean termites.  Of these, diflubenzuron is the most widely used.

 

Some studies have shown that noviflumuron eliminates termite colonies up to 50% faster than hexaflumuron.

 

Chitin synthesis inhibitors (insect growth regulators) act by preventing termites and other insects from successfully molting, and have been widely used around the world. These chemicals work at very low concentrations, and are considered safe for use around people, mammals, and other non-target organisms.  They do, however, take longer to eliminate entire colonies.

 

Insect growth regulators also have the advantage of being more target-specific in their mode of action, compared to the use of broad-spectrum insecticides which tend to deplete populations of beneficial insects as well as the “pests”.

 

Baits that use chitin inhibitors to manage subterranean termites can provide 100% control in about two to three months.

Dow AgroSciences also markets a chitin inhibiting bait targeting subterranean termites that contains hexaflumuron (Sentricon’s Termite Colony Elimination System®).  It is also only available through your local pest control operator. Although effective, it may take six weeks or longer before all colony members may be impacted using this method.

 

Zeneca Professional Products (Syngenta) is testing a pre-construction barrier treatment (Impasse™) for control of subterranean termites which may give up to ten years of protection.  It consists of a multi-layered, moisture-resistant polymer containing a pyrethroid coating.

 

FMC Corporation distributes a termite bait containing sulfluramid (Firstline™).  Sulfluramid works by inhibiting the digestion of food in termites causing them to starve.  It is considered to be safe for humans and animals when used in bait stations.

 

Spectrum Industries also markets a bait containing sulfluramid for termite control (Terminate™). 

 

Terminate™ is an example of a termite bait that is available to homeowners who want to do their own pest control.  It is recommended that a pest control operator inspect your home before you do your own thing, however.

 

Some pest control companies sell baits, monitoring stations, and other supplies for termite control for do-it-yourselfers.  These can be purchased online, and are marketed under the HomeChoicelabel.

 

Homeowners who want to take a stab at termite control should keep in mind that if bait stations are not installed and inspected properly, termites could gain a foothold and the anticipated savings over other professionally installed systems (e.g. Sentricon) could evaporate in a heartbeat.

 

Some studies have shown that the proper placement of baits can lead to quicker termite elimination.  Baits and monitors that are positioned near sites where termites are most active (e.g. near moisture sources and mulches) exposes more termite workers to baits, and thus should increase their mortality.

 

The design and composition of baits can also impact subterranean termite control.  Large baits that were composed of both paper and wood, for example, were more attractive than smaller, paper-only baits.

 

BASF Corporation produces a termite bait containing hydramethylnon (Subterfuge™).  Hydramethylnon inhibits termite metabolism in a similar manner to sulfluramid.  It is also considered to be safe when formulated for use in bait stations.

 

U.S. Borax manufactures a product containing boron salts (Tim-bor®) which can be used as a preventative surface treatment or dust for the control of drywood termites.

 

Some evidence suggests that drywood termites can be controlled with silafluofen, which is a less toxic pyrethroid option.  Drywood termite galleries have been dusted in the past with different compounds with good results, but dry conditions seem to be necessary for their effectiveness.

 

Parasitic nematodes and fungal pathogens have been used with varying degrees of success against termites. Treatments with these agents can be highly effective, but are short-lived.

 

Parasitic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.) can infect subterranean termite workers and provide adequate control but evidence suggests the particular nematode species used is a critical part of this success.

 

EcoScience Corp. is the manufacturer of BioBlast® which utilizes an active fungus (i.e. Metarhizium anisopliae) as a biological control agent against drywood termites.  BioBlast® is not available commercially, but can be applied through your local pest control operator.

 

Metarhizium anisopliae is somewhat less effective against subterranean termites because they manage to stay away from treated areas.  Some studies suggest that certain bait formulations (i.e. cellulose) are less repellent to subterranean termites, and, thus, more effective. Keep in mind that some fungal strains may also perform better (are better adapted) than others against the same termite species. Some termite species are also capable of mounting a stronger immune response to fungal pathogens.

 

Some evidence suggests that another active fungus, Beauveria bassiana, is more effective against subterranean termites after colony exposure. In Egypt, termite cadavers filled with this fungus were effective as baits against subterranean termites.

 

Other studies have shown that another fungus, Paecilomyces spp., is an effective control agent against colonies of Formosan subterranean termites.

 

For fungi to be effective, termites must have direct physical contact with the spores.  They do not necessarily have to consume baits containing the fungus.

 

Several devices have been developed over the years that have shown much promise in termite control including “sniffers”, which can detect gases emitted by termite colonies, acoustic detectors that can “hear” termites feeding, and infrared cameras and microwave detectors that can quickly survey structures for infestations.

 

When properly trained, termite-sniffing dogs have been very successful at locating infestations within homes, and are much less prone to errors compared to humans when performing structural inspections.

 



 





THRIPS


Thrips are minute, plant-feeding insects that attack flowers, leaves, and fruits. Some also feed on pollen or fungi.  Thrips are capable of causing economic damage to crops such as cucumber, rye, wheat, cotton, onions, red peppers, peanuts, and barley. Numerous thrips are also important pollinators.

Thrips have piercing-sucking mouthparts, and can be particularly abundant in the flower heads of daisies and dandelions.

Thrips can also transmit viruses to some crop plants such as tomatoes, onions, watermelon, green peppers, and peanuts which can cause disease.

 

Some species of thrips (e.g. Frankiniella bispinosa) can bite humans which can cause skin irritations including itching and rashes in sensitive individuals.  These thrips do not transmit disease, and seem to be attracted to blue and white colored clothing.

Thrips on plants can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Predatory Anthocorid (Pirate) Bugs (Orius spp.)
Lacewing (Chrysoperla spp.)
Predatory Mites (Various spp.)

Predatory Thrips (Franklinothrips spp.)
Parasitoid Wasp (Thripobius semiluteus)


Thrips outbreaks are often due to water-stressed plants, and are most numerous during the late spring and summer.  Watering plants and the surrounding soil will help strengthen plants and reduce their numbers.

 

Some evidence suggests that electrical fields from thunderstorms may affect the behavior of migrating thrips.

 

The population growth of thrips is often tied to the abundance of available flowers.

Petunias are especially susceptible to thrips.

 

Avoid feeding plants nitrogen which encourages thrips to reproduce.

Diatomaceous earth can be used as a desiccant control for thrips.

Garlic sprays and soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin can be used to suppress thrip populations.

Neem tree extract sprays have also been used successfully against thrips.

Thrips exclusionary screening materials are available commercially for use in greenhouses.

 

The use of UV-reflective mulches can significantly reduce the number of thrips appearing on many vegetable crops.

 

In Taiwan, thrips were also repelled by UV-absorbing films in melon crops.
 
Sticky traps and tapes can also be used to attract and control thrips.  Thrips seem to prefer the colors blue, yellow, or white over other colors when they respond to traps. Traps that are brightly colored with a dark contrasting background will also attract more thrips.

 

Models mimicking the chrysanthemum flower have also been used to attract thrips.

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) have been used in greenhouses and in the field to control thrips.  Increasing the humidity in greenhouses resulted in a significant increase in infection rates against thrips when using B. bassiana. Applying B. bassiana to the soil can also help reduce the emergence of adults.

In laboratory experiments, other fungi (e.g. Lecanicillium spp.) have shown their ability to cause mortality in thrips as well.

 

Dutch studies have shown that some bacterial strains (e.g. Photorhabdus temperata) are orally toxic to thrips.

 

Beneficial parasitic nematodes (e.g. Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema carpocapsae) can be used to control the early instar and pupal stages of thrips which develop in the soil.  Nematodes seem to be more effective when there are wetter soil conditions.  Higher temperatures can be more effective in inducing mortality in adult thrips. Some nematodes (e.g. Thripinema fuscum) have been able to induce sterility in female thrips.

 

Studies in greenhouses using the beneficial nematode, Thripinema nicklewoodi, indicated that they could become established against the western flower thrips.

 

Predatory mites (e.g. Ambylseius cucmeris) have also been used to control western flower thrips; indeed, the presence of mites causes some thrips larvae to just drop off of plants.  Combining both mites and nematodes have usually resulted in increased reductions of thrips on plants as well.

 

Helicopter applications using the plant extract sabadilla in a sugar solution have been used to control thrips in trees. In California, resistance has become more prevalent with their increased use however.

 

Insect growth regulators (e.g. diflubenzuron and triflumuron) used in planting mediums have been shown to reduce the number of emerging thrips from the soil.

Cinnamon oil (e.g. Cinnacure®) sprays have shown some success in controlling thrip populations.

 

Spearmint and pennyroyal oil vapors (as fumigants) can also be used and are toxic to adult thrips.

 

Cashew shell extracts have shown promise in reducing thrip populations.

Horticultural or mineral oils (e.g. rapeseed or Sunspray Ultra-fine®) have also shown effectiveness in reducing thrips.

 

Fish oils have also shown some promise in repelling or limiting thrip populations.

 

Thrips that are just emerging from the soil have been reduced significantly by covering the ground with a transparent, vinyl film for several hours on sunny days. The solar radiation will produce very high temperatures that induce adult mortality during the spring and summer periods.

 

Some evidence has shown that thymol (thyme oil) and carvacrol (origanum oil) reduced feeding and deterred thrips from ovipositing on leaves in controlled experiments. These oils do not necessarily increase the mortality of thrips, but instead, changes their behavior.


Patience and weekly oil spraying may be necessary to completely eliminate thrips from plants.



 

 



TICKS


Ticks are parasitic, blood-feeding arthropods that mainly attack mammals, birds, and reptiles. 

 

Ticks are vectors of many diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia.

In North America, young ticks (nymphs or seed ticks) prefer to feed during the warmer months when people tend to spend more time outdoors. Most cases of Lyme disease occur during the months of May, June, and July, when young ticks are most active. They are very small and difficult to detect. Adult ticks feed in the fall and are generally easier to spot and remove.

 

Children 5-9 years of age are among the most susceptible group to a tick bite.  Tick bites on children frequently occur on the upper parts of the body, especially on the head, neck, and under the armpit, so if you have a child that likes to take romps through the forest, visual inspections (and prompt tick removal) can be helpful in the prevention of disease (adults are more likely to be bitten on the lower legs).

 

As is the case with most blood-feeding insects, carbon dioxide (from your expired breath) will also attract ticks to you.  Some ticks can recognize chemical cues left behind by passing animals or humans on plants, and may wait patiently on or near these areas to ambush their host.

 

Some studies indicate that ticks are also attracted to squalene, which is an abundant, naturally occurring skin secretion found in humans and mammals.


Ticks can settle and feed in moist areas such as around the groin, navel, and behind the knees.  They also prefer to bite in unexposed areas (out of direct sunlight).

 

Some ticks, such as the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) (pictured above left), favor the head and neck areas for attachment.

 

In US studies in California hardwood forests, researchers found that certain human behaviors were riskier than others for tick encounters.  People most at risk were those who just sat on logs, followed by those out gathering wood, sitting against trees, walking, and sitting on leaf litter.

 

Depending on the age of the tick and the person bitten, ticks may spend up to 24 hours on your body before they even begin to feed, but may need only 8 hours before disease may be transmitted.  Infection is transmitted faster by adult ticks.

 

An interesting Swedish study found that women 40 years or older had an almost 50% greater risk of attracting ticks to them than men of the same age.  Moreover, they had an almost 100% higher risk of being bitten than men who were younger than 40 years of age.

Keep in mind that ticks are attracted to light-colored clothing. Some entomologists advise people to wear light colors to make ticks more visible to you, in which case, they can be spotted and removed easier. My suggestion is to wear dark clothing to reduce your exposure, and follow some of the other recommendations given below.

To lessen your exposure to ticks:

Wear a hat and closed-toe shoes.
Wear long pants (tucked into socks).
Use repellents.
Inspect your own (or your child’s) body daily for ticks.
Reduce tick habitat by removing leaf litter and woodpiles, mowing grasses, and clearing brush.

Build fences to exclude deer from residential yards.
Stay on trails if you are hiking in the forest.
Do not feed birds during the summer.
Control exposure to pets by checking them frequently for ticks.
Wear dark clothing (ticks are attracted to white and light colors).

Keep in mind that ticks attached to clothing that is laundered in washing machines are not always killed outright.  Young (nymphal) ticks have survived hot water washes using detergents in experiments.  Setting clothes dryers to high heat for at least an hour should insure tick mortality on clothing, however.


Forests, lawns, areas with leaf litter or shrub cover, and watered areas all tend to be desired habitats for ticks.

 

Ticks that transmit Lyme disease prefer moist, humid conditions, and are sensitive to dehydration.

 

Homes built near the forest edge are especially prone to having increased numbers of ticks in the area.

 

If you live adjacent to woodlands, creating a barrier several feet wide of wood chips, mulch, or gravel between your grass and the woods, will offer increased protection against tick bites.

 

Nymphal (young) ticks are often found in leaf litter, and can also be found concentrated near stone walls and on hollow, fallen logs. These sites provide ideal nesting areas for mice and other small rodents that they feed upon. Adult ticks seem to prefer tall grasses. Keeping your backyard mowed and free of debris will greatly reduce their numbers. Fencing off a property can also help prevent access to animals that attract ticks.

 

If you play golf, you may want to know that deer ticks (currently known as black-legged ticks and pictured above right) are often present in large numbers in the surrounding woods adjacent to fairways. They are much less common on fairways due to the closely mowed grasses there. If you are less than a scratch golfer, you may want to examine more than your game after a round or two.

 

Ticks have also been found in public parks and recreational areas on picnic tables, tree trunks, and rock walls.

 

In forests, black-legged ticks tend to be more numerous when their vertebrate hosts (such as deer) are also more abundant.

 

Ticks tend to migrate and congregate along roadsides and along the road edges of adjacent fields. They may be attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted by passing car exhausts in their search for prey. Mowing these areas will help greatly to reduce their numbers here.

 

Ticks can survive the cold.  In fact, deer ticks have been captured in areas where there was 70% snow cover and temperatures as low as 28° F.

 

Ticks can be attracted to alternate sources of CO2 such as dry ice. Like some biting flies, they are also attracted to acetone.

 

Eliminate mouse breeding sites such as abandoned bird nests, tree cavities, woodpiles, etc. which attract ticks.

 

In studies in New York, human exposure to ticks that transmit Lyme disease was found to be related to the abundance of white-footed mice in the area.  Since these mice primarily feed on acorns, acorn abundance helped to increase the number of mice.

 

Cats have fewer ticks than dogs due to their more efficient grooming habits.

Birds are the primary predators of ticks; however, ants, spiders, beetles, mites, and some mice also feed on them. There are also minute wasps (e.g. chalcids) that parasitize and kill ticks.

 

Chickens like to eat ticks as well, and may even have potential as biological control agents. Ticks will also prey on each other when overcrowded on the same host.

 

Clothing treated with 0.5% permethrin (e.g. Permanone®), a botanical derived from Chrysanthemum flowers, can be a very effective long-term (up to two weeks) treatment against biting ticks.  Ticks are killed when they come in contact with the treated cloth.

 

Clothing treated with 7.8%  2-undecanone (e.g. BioUD®), a botanical repellent derived from tomato plants, can also be an effective long-term (up to five weeks) treatment against biting ticks such as the lone star tick.  In independent laboratory tests, it was more repellent to lone star and deer ticks compared to Deet®.

 

3M Corporation markets a product called 3M Ultrathon® which is a very effective, though expensive, timed-release tick repellent used by the U.S. Army for over ten years.  It provides up to ten hours of protection and contains only 33% Deet®.

 

Diatomaceous earth can be used as a desiccant control for ticks.

Silica gel can also be rubbed into the fur of cats and dogs for an effective tick control.

Use repellent garlic extracts or soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin to deter ticks.

Myrrh extracts are potent acaracides.

 

Nootkatone, a natural compound found in grapefruits can offer several days worth of protection against deer and lone star ticks.

A 2% emulsion of basil, cedar, grapefruit, oregano, or avocado oil can also be used to repel ticks.

 

Chili pepper extracts have been used to control cattle ticks.

 

Cedar sawdust has been used as an effective, but temporary, barrier method against nymphal ticks between forest and lawn interfaces near suburban homes.

 

Brazilian studies have shown that thyme oil can be used to repel tick larvae.

 

A Swedish study suggested that the use of a lemon eucalyptus extract (Citriodiol) was effective in reducing the number of tick bites and tick-borne infections there.

 

Other Swedish studies indicate that neem-based oil sprays were effective repellents against tick nymphs.

 

Additional evidence from Sweden suggests that the common tansy plant (Tanacetum vulgare) is an effective repellent against ticks.


Parasitic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.) can infect and reduce the number of adult ticks in infested areas.

 

Some bacterial pathogens (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis) have been found to be toxic to some adult ticks (e.g. cattle tick), especially those that are resistant to pesticides.

 

The fungi, Metarhizium anisopliae (e.g. Bioblast®), and Beauveria bassiana (e.g. BotaniGard™) have both shown some promise in controlling tick populations in areas of high tick density.  The main drawback to using fungi to control ticks is that it may take several weeks for good results. Experiments have shown that unfed larvae, nymphs, and adult ticks are more susceptible to infection.

 

The berry essential oil of pimento (allspice) (Pimenta dioica) has been found to be an effective acaracide due to its high eugenol content.

 

The essential oils of various plants including rosemary, spearmint, and marjoram, have all shown strong repellency effects against ticks in controlled studies.

 

The essential oil of oregano has also been found to be an effective acaracide.

 

Lyme disease vaccines (e.g. LYMErix) are about 76% effective in preventing disease, but are costly and can have unpleasant side effects such as chronic arthritis in some sensitive individuals.  For this reason, the manufacturer withdrew the vaccine in 2002.



  



WASPS


Wasps comprise a large group of insects whose members include scavengers, predators, parasitoids, and plant-eaters.

Some wasps are also important pollinators.

Like spiders, many wasps are good general predators in home gardens.

Yellowjackets (pictured above left) can nest in the ground, inside buildings and homes, and in trees and shrubs.

Yellowjackets are more sensitive to nest disturbance and more aggressive in their defense than other wasps.

Yellowjackets are attracted to garbage cans, dumpsters, food preparation counters, and playgrounds, where they search for protein and sweets.

Ripened apple and pear are among the most attractive odors to foraging yellowjacket workers and queens.  Yellowjacket workers also like processed meat baits such as beef, chicken and fish.  In Australia, freeze-dried kangaroo came out on top for German yellowjackets.

 

Grenadine is another effective bait for yellowjacket control.  Yellowjackets also love cat food, beef, orange soda, and Mountain Dew™.

Orange peels (not the fruit) have been found to be repellent to yellowjackets.

To lessen your exposure to yellowjackets:

Wear white clothing (yellowjackets are attracted to bright colors).
Avoid wearing perfumes and other sweet-smelling products.
Going barefoot in the garden risks stings by foraging ground wasps.
Try to stay calm when initially confronted by a wasp.
Slow, deliberate movements will lessen your likelihood of being stung.
Quick motions will scare wasps and make them more likely to sting.
Slowly and carefully brush off a wasp that has landed on someone.
Avoid smashing yellowjackets which may prompt others to attack.
Mowing lawns may agitate yellowjackets nesting underground.
Avoid drinking sweet drinks in open containers if wasps are in the area.

Commercially available cone-type baited traps can be used on a long-term basis for yellowjacket control (outside the home).
 
If a yellowjacket nest must be removed, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Seek out a professional pest control operator to assist you.

 

Studies in New Zealand have shown that yellowjackets, like many other insects, are susceptible to infection by pathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae.

Paper wasps (pictured above right) build nests that consist of a more or less circular horizontal comb of paper cells which are often suspended from a support by a slender stalk.

Paper wasps often can be found nesting under the eaves of homes or under some other suitable structure which gives the nest protection against the elements.

Paper wasps are not as aggressive as yellowjackets, but will actively defend their nests. They will sting only if provoked; therefore, it is not necessary to try to remove every nest that you encounter.  I can tell you this from experience, because I once stayed briefly in a thatched, adobe home in Venezuela.  The structure was completely surrounded by at least a dozen paper wasp nests which were constructed all around the entranceway.  They certainly noticed when we walked in and out, but were never aggressive towards us.

If you leave paper wasps alone, they will leave you alone, and will happily take care of some of the caterpillars and other insects that feed on your trees and garden plants.

 

Paper wasps and yellowjackets can be repelled by essential oils of various herbs such as clove, pennyroyal, lemongrass, spearmint, wintergreen, sage, rosemary, lavender, geranium, citronella, thyme, fennel seed, anise, and peppermint.

Like paper wasps, bald-faced hornets (pictured above center) will only sting if provoked or threatened.

Hornets often build nests above ground that are exposed to the elements, and their paper nests can be over a foot in diameter.

As with yellowjackets, do not try to remove hornet nests on your own. Seek professional assistance.

Silica gel and diatomaceous earth can both be used inside houses to treat cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel wasps and deny harborage in these areas.

Boric acid (20%) can also be used to treat cracks and crevices.

Some wasps can be controlled with the use of soap sprays and citrus oil.

Some wasps can also be controlled with nematode sprays.

 

Woodstream Corporation’s Poison Free Wasp & Hornet Spray uses an 8% Japanese mint essential oil blend as an effective knockdown treatment.

Area wide poison baiting should only be used as a last resort when all other methods have failed.

Whatever method you use, nests should always be removed in the evening when all the wasps are in their nests.







WHITEFLIES


Whiteflies are minute plant-feeding insects that resemble tiny moths.

The wings of whiteflies are often covered with a white dust or waxy powder.

Whiteflies have piercing mouthparts and often attack numerous crops, citrus trees, many ornamentals, and greenhouse plants.

 

The silverleaf whitefly is considered the most serious insect pest for greenhouse poinsettias.

While feeding, whiteflies often secrete honeydew which develops into a sooty mold fungus which can damage leaves.

Whiteflies can also transmit viruses to plants which can cause disease in some crops such as sweet potato, soybean, cotton, snap bean, melon, squash, cassava, and tomato.

Whiteflies can be controlled by the following insect predators which you can purchase for your individual use, and are available commercially from producers and suppliers:

 

Predatory Bug (Macrolophus caliginosus)
Lady Beetle (Various spp.)
Lacewing (Chrysoperla spp.)
Predatory Mites (Euseius spp.)
Parasitoid Wasps (Various spp.)


Avoid feeding plants nitrogen which encourages whiteflies to reproduce.

 

Diatomaceous earth can be used as a desiccant control for whiteflies.

Spiders will also reduce whitefly numbers.

Neem tree extract sprays can be an effective control against whiteflies; however, some studies have shown that beneficial predatory insects and parasitoids are negatively impacted as well.  Indian studies have shown that silkworm numbers also declined in the presence of neem-treated leaves.

Soap sprays with citrus oil or pyrethrin can help reduce whitefly numbers.

 

Lemongrass oil is especially effective against whiteflies.

 

Laundry detergent sprays such as 1% Tide®, or New Day® dishwashing detergent can also be used to diminish whitefly infestations.

Garlic essential oil sprays have also shown effectiveness in deterring whiteflies.

The use of fish, petroleum, mineral, or vegetable oils have all been used to repel whiteflies.

 

Plant essential oils such as bay, caraway, castor, clove, lemon peel, lime, parsley, pennyroyal, peppermint, rosewood, teat tree, eucalyptus, and spearmint are effective against greenhouse and/or silverleaf whiteflies.

 

Studies out of Jordan showed that extracts of garden cress were toxic to early stage nymphs of sweet potato whiteflies, and prevented pupae from developing into adults.


SunSpray Ultra-Fine
® oil, in particular, has shown success in reducing populations of whiteflies.  This mineral oil is most effective when applied to eggs for control of emerging nymphs.

 

Dawn® detergent can help prevent whitefly adults from settling on susceptible plants.


Sticky light traps, tapes, and adhesives can all be used to control and repel whiteflies.

 

Chinese studies suggest that yellow sticky traps may be more effective in controlling whiteflies in greenhouses than in the field.

 

Whitefly exclusionary screening materials are available commercially for use in greenhouses.

 

The predatory bug (Dicyphus hesperus) has shown much promise for controlling whiteflies on greenhouse tomatoes.  This predator is not available commercially in the United States as yet, but is widely used in Europe.

 

The predatory beetle (Serangium parcesetosum) has been used successfully in biological control programs in Russia, and has shown much potential in caged response experiments on poinsettias in the United States.  It is also not yet available commercially.

 

The wasp parasitoid (Eretmocerus siphonini) has shown great potential in controlling whiteflies in mass rearing and release experiments in Egypt.

 

Whiteflies are more likely to be attracted to sticky traps that are green or yellow in color. Yellow circles on a black background also attracted more whiteflies.

 

Entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema feltiae) have been used successfully against the sweet potato whitefly.

 

Selected fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, Lecanicillium longisporum, and Verticillium lecanii) have all been used in greenhouses to control whiteflies. Malaysian studies have suggested that M. anisopliae, in particular, has potential for control of whiteflies in the field as well.

 

The use of fungi to control whiteflies has some drawbacks including high cost, limited shelf life, favorable environmental conditions, slow action, and limited activity against eggs and adults.

Reflective plastic mulches have been shown to provide sufficient protection against whitefly damage in crops such as squash, pumpkin, and cucumber.

Some evidence suggests that extracts from the Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach) have significant repellent effects against adults of the sweet potato whitefly.

Insect growth regulators (e.g. buprofezin), have been shown to be effective against whiteflies in cotton fields in Pakistan. At low concentrations, they do not appear to impact populations of other beneficial predatory insects.  In greenhouses, some growth regulators (e.g. pyriproxyfen), have not been very effective against whiteflies due to high levels of resistance.

Tractor-mounted vacuum units have been used with some success in eliminating whitefly infestations on melon farms in Africa.  Weekly field vacuuming was found to be as effective as insecticidal applications.

An electrostatic insect-proof screen using insulated wiring has been developed that effectively excludes whiteflies from greenhouses.  The screen prevents adult whiteflies from passing through spaces between the wires of the screen.










Created on August 23, 1997


 Last revised on August 22, 2016

 



©1997- 2016  Symbio’s Non-Toxic Pest Management Index