Yellowjackets hit snooze
It was actually snowing when I woke up today. Forget what I said about the warm March weather signaling an early yellowjacket queen season here in the Pacific Northwest. Looks like the bugs can hit the snooze button a little longer, thanks to Mother Nature.
Honeybees are some of the most valuable beneficial insects we know, thanks to their pollination of crops.
"If honeybees ceased to exist, two-thirds of the citrus, all of the watermelons, the blueberries, strawberries, pecans and beans would disappear," said Jerry Hayes, apiary inspection chief with the state's (Florida) Division of Plant Industry.
So news of a tiny parasite known as a 'vampire mite' causing devastation to honeybee colonies is distressing.
When I hear a news story about bees, my ears always perk up.
Such was the case during my drive home Thursday night, when I heard a story about a swarm of bees ending an exhibition game in Tucson between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Seems the Rockies pitcher used some coconut oil in his hair that attracted the bees.
Since yellowjackets are not a big problem around Tucson, our hunch is that they were Africanized bees, which have been a problem in desert areas. We can't be sure, however, because this is not a pest we have studied. But had yellowjackets been around, they probably would have liked the coconut scent as well.
Thankfully, no one was stung.
The Grumpy Bug
For your amusement... a cute children's story about a grumpy bug trying to find someone to play with him.
Before clicking "play," you can have some fun moving the cursor over the grumpy bug and getting him to grumble at you.
Toby Bloomberg of Bloomberg Marketing and the Diva Marketing Blog had some nice things to say about the RESCUE! BugBlog in her Biz Blog Profile today. I had the pleasure of meeting Toby in Chicago at the American Marketing Association's 'Hot Topic' Seminar in February called "Blogs: Marketing Beyond the Website."
Thanks for the encouragement to start blogging, Toby!
The war on flies? You can leave that to us.
A couple of months ago, our customer service department received via e-mail one of the best testimonials we've read in a long time:
"I've used your products for years and have always been impressed with them, but never thought I'd use them in quite this way.
In July I took a job with KBR doing pest control and was assigned to Camp Patriot on the east side of Baghdad. I thought I could claim to have seen bad fly problems in 15 years of pest control, but nothing could prepare someone for what exists here. This is fly hell! I mean, they are overwhelming! I can throw down some bait and two hours later the ground will be black with a carpet of dead flies to the point that they cover the bait. GoldSticks are caked in 2 or 3 days in some places.
I use the Rescue fly traps along with fly sticks, baits, and fogging to help control flies throughout the base, including the guard towers (see photo) where they help draw flies away from Army soldiers assigned to protect the base. The soldiers are always amazed at how many flies these things can catch, sometimes they fill in only a week. One nice advantage they have over the glue traps and scatter baits is that dust does not degrade their performance, a real plus over here.
Anyway, keep up the great work. Everyone here appreciates having the flies in the bags instead of buzzing all over them."
Tagg Bowman, Jr. , KBR Vector Control
It was humbling to hear that, in this small way, our product helped make the conditions around the army base a little more bearable for those brave men and women who are risking their lives in Iraq.
Thanks, Tagg, for taking the time to write.
The federal government is hard at work to contain and eliminate foreign invaders who have shown up illegally on U.S. soil and threaten our citizens and our way of life.
It's not what you think. This 'homeland security' effort is being carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture. Take a look at Invasivespecies.gov, a web site that explains the fight against invasive species of bugs and weeds... enemies like the Africanized honeybee, Asian tiger mosquito, European gypsy moth and the Japanese beetle. The site is informative and easy to navigate, with some great photography.
Beetlemania, pt. 2
More news in the business of big beetles. Five years ago, a beetle breeder (huh?) in Columbia made a discovery: a beetle of Herculean proportions. Appropriately called Hercules beetles, these critters grow to over eight inches long!
After a group of Japanese businessmen (see 'Beetlemania, pt. 1') got enthusiastic about the beetles, the breeder started exporting them to Japan and other countries where people seek them as exotic pets.
Once you've paid $130 US for your new pet, however, don't get too attached -- the beetles die of old age only six to eight months after reaching adulthood.
Beetlemania, pt. 1
A professional cricket trader (huh?) and his son were arrested in Japan for smuggling 10 large beetles from Africa into the country. They sold six of them for a handsome profit through an internet auction site.
Apparently there's a substantial market for exotic insects in Japan; some people like to display them in their homes. They also like to use them for entertainment (beetle races, anyone?).
The rare beetles grow to four inches in length. Let's just say I'm glad they're rare.
Here in the Northwest, we've been enjoying a winter of very light precipitation and unusually warm February and March weather. That has lots of people talking about bugs, like in this AP story. It also has us worried about a drought. Having been in the bug business for over 22 years, we know that a warm spring and dry conditions can mean yellowjackets will get an early start.
The Northwest had an abundance of yellowjackets last summer, which means that a large number of yellowjacket queens have been hibernating over the winter. During the first warm days of spring, when daytime temps consistently reach the high 60s/low 70s, the queen emerges and starts looking for a new site for her nest. The most frequent nest site is underground, but some yellowjackets have been known to nest in an attic or the wall void of a house. (Personal note: I know this from first-hand experience... I had a yellowjacket nest in a wall void above the back door of my house a number of years ago. I was going in and out of that door for days before realizing it. I wondered why bugs were buzzing around my head every time I passed through, then finally looked up and saw the tiny opening with the heavy yellowjacket traffic going in and out. Scary!)
Anyway, the record high March temperatures have us here at Sterling on a 'queen watch.' We all have our RESCUE! yellowjacket traps out to see who can capture the first sign of what could potentially be an infestation this spring and summer. Any yellowjacket queen caught in the next few weeks could easily qualify as a record for the earliest sighting.
I'm convinced yellowjacket queens take refuge somewhere in my attic every year, so I may find the first queen in my house. Every spring, my cat Cosette will paw at a few yellowjackets crawling sleepily across the floor -- probably having just woken up from that long slumber and searching for the nearest exit. So Cosette will be part of 'queen watch' as well.
Lower temps and possible rain next week will probably put things on hold, but all signs point to the queens awakening soon.
The CD player that spun our hold music has died. While we are having it replaced, this presents an excellent opportunity to freshen that hold music. For the past 9 years or so, we have been alternating between an old David Sanborn CD and a saxophone compilation of 80s and 90s Christian contemporary hits.
We wanted to stay in the jazz vein, and with a little thought came up with the perfect group: The Yellowjackets! I have known about this jazz quartet since the late eighties, and when I started working here and creating our web site, I had "domain name envy." (Their web address is www.yellowjackets.com. We make a yellowjacket trap.)
In my Amazon search, I also came across the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, a 14-member all-male a cappella group. I was intrigued, so I placed an order to have Amazon notify me if a used copy becomes available (I couldn't find any copies available now, either new or used).
We try not to keep people on hold for too long (and we're one of few companies who actually have a live person answering the phone during business hours), but when it does happen, we hope callers will find this music pleasing.
I've always enjoyed the TV program Rebecca's Garden. The host, Rebecca Kolls, seems like such a likable, accessible, real person -- like a friendly neighbor with whom you could have coffee or work on a craft project. I feel like I could actually make the recipes, do the projects, use the garden tips she demonstrates on the air.
In addition to her show's web site, Rebecca has her own personal site, www.rebeccakolls.com, where she blogs and shares photos of her garden at home. I love that she even shows photos where she made mistakes, like when she accidentally got grass killer on the bottom of her shoes and ended up with unwanted dead spots on her lawn. In one blog entry she admits that "Even I can be a loser gardener." (Somehow I can't imagine Martha Stewart ever saying that!)
OSH How-to Fair
We may not love standing around in a booth for eight hours straight, but going to trade shows is a great way for those of us on the RESCUE! sales and marketing team to connect personally with our customers. We can introduce people to our products, answer questions, and get feedback from those who have already used them. I'm pleased to say that the most frequent comment we hear about our insect traps is "Hey, those things really work!"
Orchard Supply Hardware, a chain in California, holds several "How-to Fairs" each year. Pleasanton, CA (east of the San Francisco Bay Area) was the site of a How-to Fair this past weekend, on March 5 and 6.
You may know about the "Desperate Housewives" of Wisteria Lane, but I came across a site today that chronicles the "Desperate Houseflies" of Diptheria Lane. Clever.
The 'cast' and 'episodes' follow the ABC show and are updated every week. (A word of warning: Some of this material is for mature audiences only. Let's face it, flies are filthy!)
Infestation bugs cops
Bugs thwarted the operations of Detroit's Finest today. Apparently an infestation of critters closed the third precinct of Detroit's Police Department. The story does not say which kind of bug... cockroaches, perhaps? Somehow I have a hard time picturing these brave officers shrieking and standing on chairs to avoid the creepy crawlies (which is what I would be doing!).
Let the blogging begin!
Welcome to the RESCUE! BugBlog. My name is Stephanie and I'm the head marketer for Sterling International, manufacturers of RESCUE! Pest Control Products. (As of this post, I'm also the chief blogger!) I've worked in marketing for 15 years -- nine of which have been spent at this great company. What I appreciate most about Sterling is the entrepreneurial spirit of our team. One of my goals for this blog is to help you, the reader, catch a glimpse of that spirit.
Before we begin, a little housekeeping is in order. Being new to the blogosphere, we want to start off right with our RESCUE! BugBlog policy:
- We will tell the truth.
- We will not delete comments unless they are spam, off-topic or defamatory.
- We will reply to comments when appropriate as promptly as possible.
- We will link to online references and original source materials directly.
- We will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
- We will keep confidential and proprietary company information and projects private.
- We welcome questions about our products and the insects they are intended to catch or lure. Unfortunately, time will not permit us to answer questions about insects that are outside our realm of expertise or study. We will endeavor to direct any such questions to resources (other web sites, printed material, or service agencies) that may prove helpful in your search for information.