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Buggy Halloween story (Don't read this before dinner!)

Today is Halloween, and I'm thankful that so far no one has scared me with anything having to do with bats. I had enough bat-related experiences this year to ensure I live in fear of them for many years to come. Needless to say, I didn't watch this made-for-TV movie last night.

Anyway, here's a cringe-inducing story in honor of October 31. A Milwaukee woman is trying to donate her skeleton after she dies, for study in the classroom at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. One of the details she needs to work out is how to de-flesh her body. The solution apparently lies in bugs, and primarily, flies. Houseflies, blowflies, flesh flies, cheese flies and coffin flies can de-flesh a body in one week. "And once the corpse becomes too dry for the maggots of these flies to feed from," according to the article, "beetles come in and finish the job."

Ewww, gross.

October 31, 2005 in Bugs in the news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He signed up to get stung

Yellowjacket_10 Who in their right mind, knowing he is allergic to the venom, would volunteer to get stung by a yellowjacket?

A gentleman in the Netherlands who is helping test a new drug, that's who. This article chronicles the process involved in testing a medicine to treat Johan Smet's allergy as he, along with other test subjects, is stung in a laboratory setting.

The sensitivity categories for a wasp or yellowjacket sting range from 1 -- instantly lethal -- to 5 -- a mild rash. Smet's risk is significant: At a category 2 on the scale, he will suffer extreme swelling, fever, palpitations and difficulty in breathing when he gets stung. He could also go in to shock.

After the test, Smet was fine. Turns out the testers had given him an old drug, Alutar, and not the new one in trial. It may be years before the new drug they were testing, Purethal, is available -- if at all.

October 27, 2005 in Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hurricane mess offers termite heaven

More bad pest-related news in the areas hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There's a "super termite" that is prevalent in both New Orleans and Lake Charles, Louisiana, and not even a hurricane can wipe it out:

Known as "super termites," the insects can hold their breath for up to 16 hours underwater, they're good at finding tiny air pockets in the soil to breathe once grounds are soaked and they can retreat to aboveground portions of their elaborate nests to wait out a storm.

Termites Experts say this Formosan subterranean termite may suffer a temporary drop in numbers, but that it should come back with a vengeance in years to come.

"We have found dead termites, so it appears many have drowned," said Gregg Henderson, an entomologist and termite guru at Louisiana State University, who dug up previously buried test crates packed with old wood last week in New Orleans to see how the insect's numbers were looking. "But there are also thousands of survivors and they will thrive."

Since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region, Henderson explains, the area has become termite heaven — a virtual termite buffet — packed with moist debris, including soaked homes and downed trees. This material provides the insect with its main food: cellulose.

October 20, 2005 in Bugs in the news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Floods + heat = flies

Fly_2 As if the residents of coastal Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi didn't have enough to deal with after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the conditions in those areas now are extremely conducive to flies. With the heat and moisture from floodwaters, plus the dead animals and rotting food, flies are breeding quickly.

Here's an article about the health risks those areas are facing now, in large part due to the insects. This page from the Louisiana State University AgCenter web site also describes the insect problems following floods.

Ftd_with_family_1 We're told that our Disposable Fly Traps have been in use (and filling up fast) by the National Guard downtown and in the area surrounding the University of New Orleans, and we are working on getting more of those traps down to the folks in the Southeast who need them.

October 11, 2005 in Flies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

EMTs on call stung by yellowjackets

Yellowjacket_8 Three Connecticut EMTs, responding to an emergency call over the weekend, needed medical attention themselves after being stung numerous times by yellowjackets.

October 10, 2005 in Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He's glad he was stung

It's not often you'll hear someone utter the words "I'm glad I was stung," but that's what a 54-year-old Hooversville, PA man had to say recently. An emergency room visit following a wasp sting revealed cancerous tumors in his gallbladder and liver that had been previously undetected.

Here's hoping it was caught in time to be curable.

October 7, 2005 in Bugs in the news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack