This is the Summer of Dangerous Bugs This is the Summer of Dangerous Bugs

Via Mark Huffman

Photo© JPS –

Insects used to be just an annoyance. Now, it seems, they are posing increasing danger to people. For several years West Nile Virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been a threat in the U.S. It can lead to fever or other symptoms and in rare cases, it can be fatal.

This year there’s a new mosquito-borne threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports hundreds of cases of chikungunya, a painful virus spread by mosquitoes.

The first cases showed up in Florida but the virus has since spread to 34 other states. In one of the highest profile cases, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta revealed last week that he believes he has been infected with the virus. The team has placed him on the disabled list.


Kansas State University professor Stephen Higgs says outbreaks of chikungunya and its rapid spread is something to worry about. Higgs, one of the world’s leading researchers of the virus and director of Kansas State’s Biosecurity Research Institute, says because of travel, many more people are now at risk of becoming infected.

“Those travelers have come back from an infected area, most likely the Caribbean, and they’ve become infectious to mosquitoes because they are carrying chikungunya in their blood,” Higgs said. “They have been bitten by mosquitoes in the United States and those mosquitoes have become infected. The mosquitoes go through an intrinsic incubation period and then have enough virus to transmit to new people in the United States.”

Part of the problem, says Higgs, is chikungunya is transmitted by two types of mosquitoes, and both are widely found throughout the U.S. While the mosquitoes don’t directly transmit the virus to one another, they indirectly spread the virus by biting people.


“It transmits from person to mosquito to person to mosquito and so forth,” Higgs said. “Mosquito biting can be intense and one person can be bitten by dozens of mosquitoes in just a small amount of time. One person could infect lots and lots of mosquitoes and then, unfortunately, the virus can spread from there. Each one of those mosquitoes can infect multiple people.”

Symptoms of chikungunya include intense arthritis-like pain in the joints. The pain might go away after a couple of days but it might not. It could last weeks.

Higgs says the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Eliminate standing water around your house and use insect repellent when you do go outside.


Mosquitoes aren’t the only insects making this summer uncomfortable. Toxicologists at Vanderbilt University say they are seeing more patients this summer who have received bites from a brown recluse spider.

Dr. Donna Seger, Medical Director of the Tennessee Poison Center, says these spider bites will usually heal if left alone. But not always, especially if the victim is a child.

Sometimes the spider bites produce something called systemic loxsoscelism, triggering a fever, rash, muscle pain and potential hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells. That can be life threatening, especially in children, Seger said.

“Our recommendations are that all children under 12 with a brown recluse spider bite should have a urine test for the presence of hemoglobin in blood which indicates hemolysis,” Seger said.

It’s unclear why systemic loxsoscelism occurs in some people with a brown recluse spider bite and not in others but when it does, it’s life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Toxin-induced hemolysis can occur very rapidly, making it more of a threat.

The brown recluse spider is usually between 6-20 mm and light to medium brown, although it can be lighter or darker. It has six eyes instead of eight and can be identified by the violin-shaped marking on its back.

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Perimeter Pest Control Treatments

Perimeter Treatments


Outdoor pests (also called occasional invaders) can often be stopped before they enter the building and become a problem. These pests consist of ants, earwigs, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, wasps and hornets, rodents and more.

Smithereen’s Perimeter Treatment Program is designed to apply a protective barrier around the building or home to prevent the pests from entering and keep them outdoors where they belong. This program is developed based on the needs of the individual. This can extend from a single application to a quarterly program.

The program consists of carefully inspecting the entire property from the ground level to the roof on the outside and the crawl space or basement to the attic. The inspection will determine access points into the structure and the pests involved. Once these have been determined a Perimeter Treatment Program will developed. This program will consist of monitoring, mechanical measures and pesticide application. Monitoring consists of regularly scheduled inspections to monitor stations that help identify a problem before it starts and baiting. Mechanical measures (to be done by the client) could include trimming trees or bushes away form the house, pulling mulch at least two inches away from the foundation, gutter cleaning, etc. These will be identified by our trained professionals and communicated to the client. Pesticide application will be determined based on the pests involved, location and surrounding environment.  Documentation and communication are the keys to the success of the program and are held in the utmost importance by our trained professionals

With this program and cooperation Smithereen will be able to provide your home or business with a comprehensive protection plan from a multitude of flying and crawling insects to ensure a healthy environment.

Contact Smithereen today to recieve a inspection and estimate for our preventitive exterior service.

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Three-dimensional visualization of an insect thorax

Three-dimensional visualization of the insect thorax

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Insect Worlds: Them & Us

Steve Backshall explores the connections and relationship that we have with insects and other arthropods. In Kenya huge armies of driver ants give houses a five-star clean up and in China we discover how silkworm caterpillars have shaped our culture and distribution. While locusts devastate crops in Africa, bees and beetles across the world provide a key link in our food chains. Many of us perceive these animals merely as creepy crawlies and nothing more than a nuisance, but as Steve reveals, we couldn’t live without them.

Insect Worlds: Them & Us – Episode 1

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Chicago Careers

Chicago Careers

WE’RE HIRING! Smitheren is looking for a Service Technician for the Western suburbs, email for more details


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THE Most Venomous Spider in North America

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How to prevent WNV

There are a number of precautions that people can take to protect their home and family from mosquitoes and minimize the potential of contracting West Nile virus. The NPMA recommends the following tips:

  • Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding sites around the home by replacing all standing water at least once a week. This includes birdbaths, flowerpots, grill covers, baby pools and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes on need about ½ inch of water to breed.
  • Screen windows, doors, and other openings with mesh. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.
  • Use mesh that is 18X18 strands per inch, or finer.
  • Seal around all screen edges; and keep doors and windows shut to prevent entry of most mosquito species.
  • Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus on exposed skin whenever outdoors. Check product labels for information on age restrictions to make sure they are safe for your toddler or infant.

If you are concerned about mosquito activity on your property, consider contacting a pest management company. They can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes and decrease the risks for mosquito-borne illnesses by inspecting properties for mosquito breeding sites and treating to control mosquitoes. In addition, they can suggest corrective actions, and provide basic information, current news and references to other sources.

You can also contact your municipality or township to see if your community has a mosquito management program in place. Only a concerted community-wide effort can properly manage these pests and reduce the risks associated with them.


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