Cooler Temps, More Rodents?

Cooler Temps, More Rodents?

With the temperatures cooling down, rodents are seeking shelter inside our homes and other buildings. Researchers and Extension wildlife specialist Charlie Lee at K-State said that it is during late fall season when home and farm owners need to prepare for rodents seeking shelter, because these pest can do some serious damage.

Rats and mice damage structures by burrowing into our walls, insulations and under foundations. Sometimes we don’t realize the damage until its too late either. Keep your eyes out for chewed electrical wires, wooden structures and wall material. Rats and mice often use these materials to build their nests.

Rats and mice are responsible for at least 45 different diseases said Lee. The harmful human diseases include Hantavirus, Leptospirosis and the Plague.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Hantavirus is spread by breathing in dust contaminated with rodent urine or droppings; having direct contact with rodents and their urine, droppings or nest material; or even bite wounds from rodents, although they are rare.”

Eating food or drinking water that’s contaminated with urine from infected rodents can transmit leptospirosis, according to the CDC. Human contact with soil contaminated with urine from infected animals is another method of transmission.

Wild ground-dwelling rodents, including ground squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats and chipmunks are all involved in the cycle with fleas to spread the bacterium that causes the plague. Modern antibiotics help combat the disease, however there has been reports of fatalities.

In order to work towards rodent-proofing our homes and buildings Lee says “close up places where its obvious that [rodents] are getting in. The next step is sanitation, which is simply habitat alteration,” he continued. “Clean up inside and out, particularly pet food and spilled grains. Then finally, the third step is population reduction. Many people rely on trapping, and some rely on toxicant programs.”


Visit Ag Wildlife Damage for more helpful information.

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Prevent the Big Problems Little Bugs Can Start

Prevent the Big Problems Little Bugs Can Start

In Washington County, local city parks and natural resources staff is doing everything they can in order to prevent big problems caused by little bugs. Officials will be calling on communities in order to work together to develop a plan for the coming year.

The little bug they are working on creating a plan for is the emerald ash borer, also known as EAB. They have caused over 30 million ash trees in North America to die according to the Washington County Natural Resources Coordinator Dan McSwain. The desire to stop the spreading of the EAB has been made known as of November 10th at the Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Cottage Grove has been asking presidents to voluntarily participate in eliminating the ash trees as they have removed most of the ash trees on public property. The overall plan is to replenish the trees that have been removed, because it means the loss of fewer trees if a future infestation occurred.

“Diversifying tree species is important,” McSwain said, “so that no one tree species becomes predominant in the county’s parks and the trees in the parks will be resilient to infestations in the future.” The county has also developed a firewood policy that restricts park users from bring in firewood to the parks as a precaution against the spreading of EAB.


In order to benefit everyone, its crucial that everyone (local communities, adjacent counties and adjacent states) work together towards this problem. Klatt says “We’d be happy to participate.”

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City’s Trees Fall to Ash Borer

City’s Trees Fall to Ash Borer

A state forester has been called in to provide technical help to city officials in Bristol, Connecticut. The issue seems minor, a few dying trees that line an industrial park, but the consequences could be dire.

The problem is an invasive beetle that is damaging thousands of trees and thinning out forests in the midwestern and eastern states. The emerald ash borer was first observed in Detroit in 2002 and has since spread south and east. Connecticut found its first evidence of the borer ten years later.

This pest is a serious threat for several reasons. First, the beetle is invasive, which means it doesn’t have natural predators here in the U.S. The bug likely came with a shipment of untreated wood from either South Korea or China.

The bright green, red-eyed beetles are also native to Japan and Russia.

Second, the beetle does slow but insidious damage and therefore is hard to spot. By the time the tree shows symptoms, like a wilting or thinning crown and D-shaped rings in its trunk, it’s too late for the tree.

And last, the ash borer is hard to kill. The dying trees must be removed to prevent spread.

The tall ash trees lining Bristol’s oldest industrial park will be removed very soon, then ground up to ensure no beetles survive the process.

The website dedicated to recruit the public for help in the war on these bugs notes that the emerald ash borer is “now considered the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America.”

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Think Like a Bug

Think Like a Bug

Winter is here and with it comes a host of creepy crawlies trying to invade your nice warm home to ride out the cold months. When it comes to dealing with these pests entomologist Brandon Runyun advises people to think like a bug. Don’t wait till the pests are already filling up all of the cracks and crevices in your house to take care of them. If you simply let them stay, Runyun warns that the population will only get bigger next year. Instead, think of areas where these insects would want to inhabit and pest proof them. It’s much better to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place than try and chase them out later.

Runyun advises that you try and think of places bugs might want to crawl into. They tend to like places where they won’t be bothered, so look in places like your basement, attic, and inside your walls. Seal any entry where something could possibly get in. Runyun suggests using high quality silicone gel to copper stuff these areas, creating a tight seal against any would-be guests.

Are bugs starting to invade your home? Have you sealed up your house against pests?


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Masters of Evolution

Masters of Evolution

A new study published in Science Magazine reveals the origin of insects and their evolution and survival over millions of years. The study involved more than 100 scientists from 16 different countries. Scientists were able to study the DNA and sequence the genes from all types of insects and look at when they branched off from crustaceans to begin their lives on land, some 450 to 500 million years ago. That is the same time as the earliest terrestrial plants. They found that the closest relatives to those original insects are silverfish, primitive insects without wings.

This could explain their close relationship with plant life. The study revealed that insects and plants formed the first terrestrial ecosystem together. Around the time that plants began to grow taller insects began growing wings. Most of the insects we are familiar with today formed in a burst of evolution around 350 million years ago. This includes such insects as grasshoppers and cockroaches. Other common groups such as flies, wasps, and beetles evolved more than 200 million years ago. One of the most amazing things is that these seemingly insignificant insects were able to survive mass extinctions that wiped out other land animals.

What do you think of the resilience of insects? What are your thoughts on their close relationship with our plant life?

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The Right Repellent for an Insect-Free Yard

The Right Repellent for an Insect-Free Yard

You might love watching the sun set from your back porch, but I’m betting you don’t love the mosquito bites that come with it, or the ever-hovering flies. So, what product really does work to get rid of pests in your backyard? Consumer Reports decided to do a little experiment of their own, recreating a backyard barbecue, complete with 250 aggressive mosquitos and four poor testers used as guinea pigs (in protective suits of course). They compared these products: Off! Citronella Bucket, Bug Band Portable Diffuser, and a giant oscillating fan. Which one do you think won?

And the prize goes to…the oscillating fan! Neither the Off! Citronella Bucket nor the Bug Band Portable Diffuser did much to deter mosquitos from landing on the test subjects, which goes to show what a waste of money some of these products are. It turns out the simple oscillating fan produced the greatest results, reducing mosquito landings on people by the fan by 45 to 65 percent. So, next time you want to enjoy the sun setting just take a fan outside with you rather than waste your money on those candles and fancy devices that don’t seem to do much of anything.

Have you tried any of these products that are supposed to repel mosquitos? How well have they worked for you?

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