Video of the Week: Sticking it to a Bald-faced Hornet nest
I'm adding this week's featured video to our "Pest Control Hall of Shame".
W*H*Y Wednesday: the Southern Yellowjacket
Today's featured species is Vespula squamosa, known as the Southern Yellowjacket.
This yellowjacket has been a thorn (sting?) in the side of people who live in warmer climates, because its colonies can survive the winter and grow to become massive. Monster yellowjacket nests like this one in Florida and this one in Georgia (100,000 yellowjackets in the cab of a truck) are most likely built by V. squamosa.
The Southern Yellowjacket can be distinguished from other yellowjackets in the southern U.S. by two long, yellow stripes on the thorax. Its stout body is about 5/8 inches long, which is larger than average for most yellowjackets. The Southern Yellowjacket queen is distinguished by an orange abdomen with very few black bands.
Southern Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and are attracted to meats and sugary foods, and may be pests around trash cans and picnics. In warm climates, some Southern Yellowjacket colonies can overwinter, lasting longer than a year. This species is considered a social parasite to other yellowjackets, usually taking over Eastern Yellowjacket nests.
Southern Yellowjackets inhabit the southern and eastern U.S., as far north as PA and MI, and as far west as TX. Their "footprint" is shown in the highlighted portion of the map below:
Southern Yellowjacket nests are likely to be found in urban and suburban areas, such as yards, parks and roadsides. Most nests are subterranean, but Southern Yellowjacket nests have been reported in aerial locations and house wall voids. Peak population usually ranges between 500 and 4000 workers. Entire colonies -- not just the queen -- can overwinter in warmer climates.
Colonies are typically large, so disturbing a nest can result in swarming. Since nests are usually found in urban and recreational areas, there is a greater risk of stings and surprise encounters.
Housing starts down -- for people, not for wasps!
We've been hearing the same news for months: new home construction is down. Reuters reported last week that housing starts in December 2008 were down 33.3% from 2007 and new home building permits were down 36.2%.
Not to be flip about a serious problem facing our economy, but there is one sector of housing that is not likely to be affected by this downturn: the building of wasp, hornet and yellowjacket nests.
There is a way you can stop their building and hand them an eviction notice: by putting out traps in spring when the weather starts to warm up. Use either the RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap for the yellowjackets, or the RESCUE! W*H*Y Trap to stop the wasps, hornets and yellowjackets. Our traps will catch the queens when they emerge from hibernation to scout nest-building locations.
Wasp sting to the chest...
...convinces woman to enlarge her breasts.
I don't make this stuff up; I just report it.
Perhaps this gal might also like to see how she'd look with bee-stung lips.
Help! Get this bug off me!
Our Video of the Week is a hidden-camera gag featuring a plastic bug, two "pest control" guys, and some unsuspecting passers-by. Enjoy.
We're going to Houston!
I'm excited to go to Houston next month to represent RESCUE! at the "Mom 2.0 Summit: An Open Conversation Between Moms and Marketers". We want moms to know about our environmentally responsible products to keep their families safe from pest insects like wasps, hornets and yellowjackets.
If anyone reading this is attending the Summit, let us know! I'd love to meet you.
W*H*Y Wednesday: The Prairie Yellowjacket
This species has been observed with two different marking patterns on the abdomen, one of which closely resembles the Forest Yellowjacket. However, the abdominal markings most commonly seen have mostly yellow coloration, thin black bands with center points and black dots.
The Prairie Yellowjacket is found in the highlighted areas in the map below:
Prairie Yellowjackets are predators of only live prey such as spiders, flies, caterpillars and hemipterans. They are not known to hunt other wasp, hornet or yellowjacket species.
This species is abundant in prairie and open forest areas, but are also known to nest in lawns, pastures and golf courses. Most nests are subterranean, but some have been found in wall cavities. Their nests are typically smaller colonies with less than 500 workers.
Prairie Yellowjackets are not a serious stinging hazard unless the nest is disturbed. Because they frequently nest in lawns, this species and its nests are more likely to be found near human activity.
Here is more information about the Prairie Yellowjacket.
Good news if you have this species in your area: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Prairie Yellowjackets!
All hands on deck
One phrase you'll never hear at Sterling International: "That's not my job." No one here is above doing any task, because we're all invested in the success of our company.
Today was a perfect example. In order to produce enough W*H*Y Traps to meet a truckload shipment to Wal-Mart, everyone from the office -- the President, his wife, the Vice Presidents, our General Counsel, Marketing, Customer Service and R&D -- worked the assembly line today. Our blistering pace produced 6 pallets' worth (3,360 traps) in four hours.
Below L-R: General Counsel Bob Loomis, VP of Sales Jim Oxley, Gigi Schneidmiller and President Rod Schneidmiller set the pace at the beginning of the line.
Below: Personnel from Marketing, Customer Service, R&D and Operations load attractant into the traps, attach lids, and enclose the traps in the cardboard packaging before they're boxed up.
This isn't the first time we've been "all hands on deck". It's happened various times in our 27-year history.
One of the examples our President likes to cite took place in the late 1980s. He explains: "Sterling got a call from L&L Nursery Supply, a major distributor of our products. They had a regional account out of Portland, OR called Bi-Mart that was carrying another brand of yellowjacket trap, but that manufacturer was done shipping product for the year.
"It was early afternoon on a Thursday. We were told that if we could get yellowjacket traps to them by Friday, they would buy our product. However, we didn't have the product made up, and the day's deadline for shipping had passed. We pledged to do what we could.
"We had the office staff and everyone else out there assembling traps, and we held off the truck until 7 p.m. I personally loaded up the trailer. Thankfully, Spokane to Portland was one day service, so L&L was able to get product into the Bi-Mart stores on Friday.
"And Bi-Mart has been a customer of ours ever since."
Videos of the Week: Oddball Pest Control Commercials
Last week I shared one of the TV commercials, called "Break Room", we produced for the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets. We're entering that and several other projects in our local Addy Awards competition today.
This week, I dug up three pest control service commercials that are silly, quirky, and... well, downright disturbing. Probably safe to say they're not award-winning. But I do wonder if they made the phone ring for these exterminating services. What do you think?
W*H*Y Wednesday: The Northeastern Yellowjacket
This week's featured species is the Northeastern Yellowjacket (Vespula vidua), found in the highlighted portion of the map below. It's a safe bet that most members of this species are quiet right now, with the frigid temps in that part of the U.S. But as with other yellowjackets, the queens will emerge in early spring to look for new nest sites.
Like some Forest Yellowjackets, the Northeastern Yellowjacket is most easily recognized by the thick black band across the upper portion of its abdomen. However, the Northeastern Yellowjacket will never have the two extra spots through the black band, which are present on many Forest Yellowjackets. This species is often called a ground hornet, most likely due to its larger than average size, roughly 5/8 inches long.
Northeastern Yellowjackets commonly make subterranean nests in high traffic areas such as yards and pastures, as well as some forested areas. However, their nests can also be found in logs and manmade structures. Colonies last one year and rarely grow beyond 500 adult workers. Adults feed on sugary foods and forage for live insects to feed larvae.
Northeastern Yellowjackets are not a serious stinging hazard unless the nest is disturbed. However, due to nesting habits in areas of human traffic, the chances of human interaction are increased.
Good news if you have this species in your back yard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Northeastern Yellowjackets!
Sunlight through the Yellowjacket Trap
Hunting yellowjackets with Johnny Rotten
Punk rocker Johnny Rotten, television host? Yes! We recently learned that John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) had a 10-episode series on the Discovery Channel in 2005 called "Megabugs", and his engaging personality and fascination with insects make it an entertaining show.
Our new friend Richard Martyniak of All Florida Bee Removal (@AFBR on Twitter) joined up with Johnny for an episode about wasps and yellowjackets. They took apart a Vespula squamosa (Southern Yellowjacket) nest growing on the side of a building.
You can read Richard's recap of the experience and see a video clip here. Fun stuff!
Woman attempts bank robbery with bug spray
A woman walked into a bank in Lakewood, Colorado earlier this month, demanding money and claiming to have a bomb, but police said all she had was a can of Raid bug spray.
Video of the Week: "Break Room"
Let's head back to the break room for a donut, shall we? Maybe we'll hear the latest buzz about what's happening in the company.
W*H*Y Wednesday: The German Yellowjacket
Today's featured species is Vespula germanica: The German Yellowjacket.
Like most yellowjackets, the German Yellowjacket is roughly a half-inch long with yellow and black coloration. It possesses an arrow shape at the top of the abdomen, much like the Eastern or Transition Yellowjacket, but this marking on the German Yellowjacket is usually narrower than that of other species.
Introduced to the U.S. from Europe, the German Yellowjacket is found primarily in the Northeast. This species is rapidly expanding and now found in limited areas in the Western states of Washington and California. The highlighted areas in the map below show the German Yellowjacket's footprint.
German Yellowjackets are “picnic pests”, frequently scavenging for meats and sugary foods and hovering around trash cans and barbecues. They are a hazard if agitated while scavenging.
Their nests are primarily found in wall voids and structures, but may be subterranean as well. The photos below show a subterranean nest which our scientists excavated several years ago.
Insects as weapons of terror?
Have you ever felt like insects were terrorizing you?
The fear that insects invoke, not to mention the disease they can transmit, has led some to consider their use as weapons -- including Jeffrey Lockwood, professor of entomology at Wyoming University and author of Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War.
"Six-Legged Soldiers describes many potential or actual uses of insects as offensive weapons during the past 100,000 years, with an emphasis on the past 300 years. Entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood describes how stinging and highly toxic insects and other arthropods have been used to cause pain and suffering to foes — from the use of bees and hornets by early humans to attack enemies, to the assassin bugs used by an Uzbek emir for torture in the early 1800s."
Lockwood's book discusses the possibility of an insect-borne plague unleashed offensively, but insects have long been a threat to the military by their naturally-occurring presence where the wars are fought.
The U.S. Army has a Medical Entomology division, which got its start when Maj. Walter Reed discovered that mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever -- which, along with other diseases degraded the military's ability to fight. In World War II, the Army recognized the importance of controlling vector-borne diseases and began commissioning entomologists. (For more on the history of entomology and the U.S. military, visit this link.)
And speaking of the military, our company actually has a role in the pest management efforts of the U.S. military, with our current research into a personal mosquito repellent device under a Department of Defense grant.