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Asian Giant Hornets a/k/a Murder Hornets

Fact, Fiction or Simply level 6 in the 2020 game of Jumanji?

The New York Times reported on May 2nd, 2020 that “Murder Hornets” with “mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins” were descending upon North America from their native habitat of Asia. “Murder Hornet” is the nickname bestowed upon Vespa Mandarinia. The largest specimens come in at just under two inches long. According to recent press reports, two Asian giant hornets were found in North West Washington state in late 2019, and a hornet colony was found and eliminated in British Columbia. This was such a surprise because this is a species not normally known to occur in North America. However, after the elimination of this colony, the giant hornet has not been found in 2020 in the United States or Canada.

An Asian giant hornet (vespa mandarinia) vs a black tailed hornet (vespa ducalis)

Vespa Mandarinia are fairly common in the mountainous regions of Asia.

Not often seen in large cities or highly urbanized areas, they usually nest at the base of large trees and inside dead logs. They also cannot tolerate extremely hot or cold temperatures.

How did these formidable Giant Hornets make their way from East Asia to the front door of Canada and North West America?

Most likely, they entered Canada via a shipping package and created the colony that was discovered in 2019. It’s easy for an invasive species to travel this way. More than 19,000 cargo containers arrive daily at US ports, and inspectors can only perform random searches of shipping containers. One estimate suggests that only 2 percent of shipments are searched for evidence of harmful organisms such as plant pests.
Many invasive species are intercepted, but some do get through.

Regardless of sex, the hornet’s head is a light shade of orange and it’s antennae are brown with a yellow-orange base. Its eyes are dark brown or black. Its orange mandible contains a black tooth that it uses for digging. The thorax is brown, with two large grey wings varying in span from 3.5 to 7.5 cm. The abdomen alternates between bands of dark brown or black, and a yellow-orange hue (consistent with its head color). Its stinger is typically 6mm (¼ in) long and contains a potent venom that, in cases of multiple hornets stinging simultaneously, can kill a human. The queens are considerably larger than workers. Queens can exceed 50 mm (2.0 in), while workers are between 35 and 40 mm (1.4 and 1.6 in).
The reproductive anatomy is consistent between the queens and workers However, workers do not reproduce.

Why the nickname Murder Hornet?

Photographs and videos have surfaced showing how viciously this insect has attacked honeybees elsewhere in the world. They crawl into hives and rip off the heads of bees in large numbers. One Giant Hornet can kill up to 10,000 bees in just a few hours! Therefore gaining the villainous nickname, “murder hornet”. 

All giant hornet workers are female. After one finds a likely target bee colony she places a pheromonal mark on it for other workers to find. When the scent is placed on an Asian honeybee hive, the bees all hunker down indoors. If a hornet gets into the nest, nearly 400 worker bees will quickly surround it, forming a ball of buzzing insects. The bees vibrate their flight muscles, raising the temperature to almost 115 degrees. Carbon dioxide levels also go up within the ball.  The bees can handle the harsh conditions, but the hornet can not and therefore dies. However, if enough hornets respond to the pheromonal call, they can overwhelm the bee defenses. When the hornets are done with their attack, they have a food bank of immature bees still in their waxen cells.

How dangerous is a sting from a giant hornet?

The venom of an asian giant hornet may be less toxic than a honeybee’s, but the hornet is so much larger and its’ stinger is about 6mm _1/4 in) long! So, it packs a bigger punch, and it can sting you over and over. People stung by the hornet have described the experience as being akin to being stabbed with a hot metal pin. The National Geographic has some great research on why the stings are so powerful. You can read their story here. The stinger is also long enough to pierce the standard protective gear beekeepers wear.  The stings can cause skin hemorrhaging and necrosis and ultimately organ injury if not treated immediately.

As of late 2019, Washington State is the only US state with official Asian giant hornet sightings.

Due to similar appearances, bald-faced hornets and European hornets can be mistaken for Asian giant hornets. Regardless of the species, if you discover or suspect a stinging insect infestation, contact a licensed pest prevention professional to effectively handle the problem. Nest removal is not a “do-it-yourself” job, as stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency department every year.

Should you have any questions about protecting your home and family, please reach out or visit our Pest Control Page! We are always happy to answer any questions even if you aren’t currently using us for pest prevention.
It is of course, the  #HonorWay!

Jacob Morehouse
Director, Pest Prevention
Honor Services

About the Author:
Jacob Morehouse has six years of experience in the customer care and pest prevention business and he has completed the Master of Termite Management program offered by The University of Florida/Pest Management University.

You can reach Jacob for any pest help by emailing him at PestPros@HonorServices.com

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Can Concrete Block Homes Get Termites?

“This is a block home, so I don’t need to worry about a termite inspection”

The above statement is a very common misconception.

We often hear “this is a block home so I don’t need to worry about a termite inspection” when scheduling inspections for future homeowners. We certainly want to honor and respect their opinion but, let us offer some additional considerations.

termites on a block home

Termites are creative and ingenious!

Termites love water and wood, and they will go through any means they can to attain these two things. They can burrow into the tiniest of openings. In fact, they can get into openings as small as 1/32nd of an inch! Given enough time, they can consume every last piece of wood that can be found in your home.

For example, a plumbing leak in your kitchen, bathroom or washing machine lines can provide a super highway for them to travel from the exterior of your home to a potential food source on the interior. One of the most common pathways we see is when bathroom tiles are not kept sealed or grouted in a shower. Water can get behind the tile and can start to cause problems with the wood behind the shower. Over time the water intrusion behind the tile can provide access to the shower framing for termites.

Another common site is a framed bay window on a concrete block home. Cracks in the stucco, or poor drainage can allow standing water to collect around your home and provide a perfect pathway for termites to gain entry.

Florida’s hot and humid climate is ideal for several species of termites including Drywood and Subterranean termites. 

We will focus mainly on subterranean termites in this blog. This species consists of some of the most common and destructive termites. Two types of these are the Eastern subterranean termites and Formosan subterranean termites.

Subterranean termites forage and form nests in soil and damp wood that is in contact with soil. A couple examples would be siding in touch with the ground or mulch that is built up high around your homes’ foundation perimeter.  They build mud tubes that extend from the soil up to the wood or any other crack or flow of water that can lead them to a potential food source.

The most severe subterranean termite here in Florida is the Formosan subterranean termite. This termite forms huge colonies, it is extremely aggressive, and destroys wood structures at a rapid rate.

It’s highly destructive traits have earned it the nickname “Super Termite.” You can read more about this termite in a great article written by the University of Florida here.

Subterranean termites’ display an advanced level of social organization (eusocial) in which a single female or caste produces the offspring and non-reproductive individuals cooperate in caring for the young. These typically have three castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductive’s, also called alates or swarmers. Workers are wingless and pale, and soldiers are identified by an enlarged head and long mandibles or “pinchers”. The swarmers are the only form with fully formed wings and eyes. These swarmers can fly to new locations to search for food or even to start new colonies.

Termite Worker, Soldier, Winged Swarmer, Queen and King
Termite Caste Examples

How can you protect your investment and home from these destructive pests? 

First, hire a licensed and experienced inspector to inspect your home for termites. Second, invest in a subterranean termite prevention plan such as Sentricon Always Active ®. Bait stations are installed in the ground around your home providing you continuous protection and greater peace of mind. It’s like having a termite technician on your property 24/7/365! This is a great video from our partners at Sentricon Always Active ® regarding termites, their colony’s and behavior.

Should you have any questions about protecting your investment, or would like a quote for protection, email our Pest Pro’s!  PestPros@HonorServices.com

We are always happy to answer any questions even if you aren’t currently using us for pest prevention. It is of course, the  #HonorWay.

Jacob Morehouse
Director, Pest Prevention
Honor Services

About the Author:

Jacob Morehouse has six years of experience in the customer care and pest prevention business and he has completed the Master of Termite Management program offered by The University of Florida/Pest Management University. If you have any questions about termites, feel free to reach out to him!

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Safely Protect your family from Mosquitoes

Disease carrying mosquitoes have been biting humans for centuries. The viruses they carry can cause severe illness or even worse death.

Hungry Cartoon Mosquito that is ready to feed from an unknowing human or animal.

Today, the latest plague they bring is the Zika virus. Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Read more about Zika from the CDC Here.
The most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the United States is West Nile Virus. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Here is what the CDC has to say about West Nile Virus.
Mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans and they can also transmit several diseases and parasites that dogs and horses are very susceptible too. For example, Heart Worm Disease in dogs, Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses. In humans, bites from mosquitoes can also cause severe skin irritation through an allergic reaction that is caused from their saliva. This is what causes the red bump and itching. Keep reading to learn how Honor Services can help Protect your family from Mosquitoes.

Did you know?

  • Only female mosquitoes “bite.” – Both males and females mainly feed on nectar from fruits and plants. But the female needs the protein found in blood to develop her eggs.
  • Mosquitoes do not have teeth. – Females have what is called a proboscis. This is a long pointed mouthpart that is serrated in order to pierce the skin and locate a capillary to draw blood from one of two tubes.
  • Females can drink up to 3 times their weight in blood. – Talk about a major blood sucker. Once she has had her fill, the female will rest for a few days before laying her eggs.
  • Females can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. – The eggs are deposited into clusters called rafts on the surface of stagnant water. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water.  Females can lay eggs up to 3 times before they die. 
  • Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days in water. – Water is vital for the eggs to hatch into larvae. Larvae feed on organic matter in stagnant water and breathe oxygen from the surface. They develop into pupae, which do not feed and are partially encased in cocoons. Over the next several days, the pupae change into adults.
  • Average lifespan of a mosquito is less than 2 months. – Males have the shortest lifespan of about 10 days or less. Females can live about 6 to 8 weeks under ideal circumstances. This means she can produce almost 1,000 babies in her short lifetime.
  • Sweat helps them choose their victims. – Human skin produces more than 340 chemical odors, and to mosquitoes this is a filet mignon dinner at a fancy restaurant. It’s the chemical released in sweat called octenol. Mosquitoes also love folic acid, certain bacteria, skin lotions, and perfume. 
  • Body heat marks their target. – Mosquitoes have heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth in your body – actually the blood inside it – so they can land on you and feast.
  • They feed night and day. – Some species of mosquitoes, like the Aedes  are daytime feeders, while others start biting at dusk and continue a few hours into the dark.
  • Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.” – The word originates from the early 16th century.  In Australia and other countries they are often called “Mozzies.”

Mosquitoes obviously did not get the memo on social distancing.

So, how do you protect your family from their bite?

There are a few options out there to help keep those disease carrying mosquitos off humans and our furry family members. Some of these options however, may not be safe or effective.

Fogging – A common but only moderately effective method as it only kills adults and does not help with reducing the number of larvae. Technicians wear a backpack-like device to treat foliage around a home or structure.
Pesticides used in fogging are neurotoxins and have also been linked to adverse effects in humans. Fogging also kills indiscriminately. Meaning, in addition to the bug you are trying to get rid of it also kills beneficial insects including bees, aquatic life and small mammals including cats. It is also toxic to birds such as mallards.

Removing Their Habitat – Another effective way to control mosquitoes is to find and eliminate their larval habitat. Eliminating large larval sites (source reduction) such as tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused swimming pools and other containers that hold and collect water is a great way to reduce mosquito and larvae population.

Honor’s Pest Professionals can help mosquitoes keep their social distance!

An effective alternative – Recently, research has proven that larviciding defined as killing mosquito larvae and pupae before they can grow into biting adults is the most effective way to eliminate the population in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Honor Services uses this method to virtually eliminate the mosquito population around your home. Our system targets female mosquitoes and their larvae by infecting them with a fungicide when they visit our traps to lay eggs. Females then disseminate the larvicide to every subsequent body of water she visits, infecting each body of water and the larvae it contains before she dies.

This method of mosquito control is approved by the EPA and The World Health Organization, it is also safe for Bees, Butterflies, Pets and Humans!

No more fogging or dangerous chemicals that can pose harm to you, your pets or the environment. Our fast acting traps are placed around your home in areas mosquitoes would find attractive. Check out our video here! Our pest pro’s add the special fungicide monthly and you get to enjoy the use of your yard with your family worry free! Most of us are spending more time at home these days so now is the perfect time to get started!

To learn more about our mosquito, termite or general household pest services, or to schedule a no obligation consult from one of our pest pros, email us a pestpros@honorservices.com or call.

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