Aphids are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that have long antennae and a characteristic pair of cornicles (short tubes extending on either side of their abdomen).
The life cycle of aphids is unusual. In the spring, over-wintered eggs hatch into females that give birth to live young, all females (up to 10 or more per day). This allows a colony of aphids to grow in size very quickly, especially indoors. In the fall, males are also produced and the fertilized females produce eggs for over-wintering outdoors.
Winged adults are produced only when it is necessary for the colony to migrate. Aphids damage plants by sucking the sap from the leaves, twigs, stems or roots. Many aphid species produce large amounts of honeydew, a sweet and sticky sap.
There are about 100 species of ants in Canada, so it is not unusual for them to become a pest around the home. The species of ants commonly found in Canada are not aggressive, although some are capable of stinging.
Ants are social insects that live in large colonies usually located in underground tunnels. Depending on the species, a colony is made up of one or more queens, and workers. The queens lay the eggs, while the worker ants defend the nest, care for larvae (hatched eggs) and forage for food.
Ants create new colonies by a process of swarming, or budding. The appearance of winged queens and smaller winged males means that swarming is taking place.
Ant colonies send out scouts to forage for food. A successful scout leaves a scented trail for other workers to follow back to the food source. This accounts for the orderly parade into your pantry!
A single brown bat can easily capture 600 mosquitoes in an hour while a colony of 500 bats can eat a million insects nightly.
Bats, the only mammals capable of sustained flight, belong to the order Chiroptera, which means, “hand-wing”.
Bats are loyal to their birthplaces, often returning to the same roost site year after year. A bat can live more than 10 years.
Bats emit high-frequency sounds inaudible to humans. These sounds bounce off objects in their paths to enable them to avoid obstacles and detect flying insects.
Bees and Wasps
Swatting at a bee is interpreted by the bee as an act of aggression, so watch out!
Bee stingers are wonders of nature. After a bee stings and deposits its stinger continues to pump venom into your bloodstream for up to twenty minutes. The venom even contains a hormone that makes other bees in the area more aggressive and prone to sting. It’s better to avoid getting stung in the first place.
To remove the stinger, gently scrape the small dark spot in the raised red area until the stinger pops out.
Once a bee finds a good place to collect pollen it goes back to the hive and begins to dance to the other bees. This dance is the way Bees communicate with each other to let know where the good flowers are.
The chinch bugs have piercing mouthparts that suck the sap from the crown and stems of the turfgrass. This damage appears as irregular yellow patches, which will spread over the summer.
Because the chinch bug live in the thatch of the lawn they are relatively easy to control.
It is black with a white spot on the back between the wing pads. Winged adults have white wings folded over their backs.
The immature chinch bug, the nymph, is bright red with distinctive white bands across the back.
Cockroaches are expert hitchhikers. They can crawl into your pant cuff while you’re on a bus or into your lunch box while you are at school. If they live in your neighbours’ apartment, they can soon crawl into yours. Cockroaches can move from room to room along water pipes or through air vents and cracks. Many hide in old furniture. Some even come up through sewer pipes.
A combination of sanitation, building modification, and diligence can manage these pests. Sanitation is the most important.
Dandelions are not native to North America. Originally from Eurasia, the Puritans for food and medicine brought them to North America.
The dandelion’s impressive survival skills, for which our ancestors were grateful, are now the main reason why so many people despise dandelions today.
The best way to kill a dandelion is to dig it out completely, then overseed with some grass seed.
Worms have both male and female sexual organs.
That “band” you see on certain worms is actually its egg sac that migrates down past its head and off its body to hatch hundreds of tiny baby worms.
Worms have five hearts, but if you were to cut one in half, generally they will not both live.
When it rains the ground fills up with water, making it difficult for the worm to breath. To avoid drowning it escapes the soil and stays on the surface of the ground.
Earwigs live only one year.
An earwig will shed its skin, or moult, four times before reaching adulthood in about 70 days.
During the day, earwigs like to hide in cool, dark, moist places.
Although decaying organic matter forms the largest part of their diet, earwigs also feed on the tender shoots, leaves and blossoms. Earwigs are also carnivorous, eating other small insects and sometimes even each other.
Prominent pincers, or forceps, at the end of its body, distinguishes this insect. The male has a large, curved pair, whereas the female’s are smaller and nearly straight. The earwig uses these fierce looking appendages during courtship, and in defence to grasp attacking insects.
Fleas are a common pest to many types of animals, including humans. Most of these animals can be kept free of fleas if basic hygienic practices are followed.
A female flea can lay 25 eggs per day, producing approximately 800 eggs in its life. The peak season for flea infestations outdoors in most parts of Canada is from early August to early October.
Fleas are unable to retain moisture and they dehydrate and die.
Only female fleas bite. When the flea pierces the skin with its mouthparts, it injects a salivary secretion to prevent its host’s blood from clotting.
Spiders are excellent pest controllers.
Although nearly all spiders have venom glands, they rarely bite humans or transmit diseases. Only a few species, such as the black widow spider, can have a dangerously venomous bite.
Spiders can have up to eight eyes. With so many eyes, it is surprising that most spiders are near-sighted.
Once the prey becomes tangled in the web, the spider immobilizes it by wrapping it in more silk and then injecting venom to paralyze it. Later the spider injects a predigestive liquid and sucks out all the nutrients from its prey.
Grubs are the larval stage of a beetle.
Grubs feed on the roots of many plants but prefers the fibrous roots of turf grasses. As the root system gets destroyed, sections of the turf begin to wilt and turn brown.
Skunks will often do additional damage by digging up the lawn searching for grubs to feed on.
A healthy lawn can generally handle up to 3-5 grubs per square foot. At these populations the grass can regrow its roots as fast as the grubs can eat them.
Because of the diseases they may spread, mosquitoes kill more than any other animal. They have the capability of spreading more than 100 viral diseases.
Mosquitoes transmit dog and cat heartworm, a parasite that attacks the heart and major arteries of dogs and cats.
Only females take blood; males feed on plant nectar.
A baby mosquitoes looks like a hairless tiny caterpillar. They are found in stagnant pools of water. If you don’t want mosquitoes biting you, make sure that you have nothing collecting water around your house.
Poison ivy can be found in every province except Newfoundland. It grows on sandy, stony or rocky shores, sprouts in thickets, in clearings and along the borders of woods.
he sap of the plant contains an oily resin that causes an irritating inflammation of the skin in most people. CAUTION: DO NOT BURN POISON IVY as this may release the poison in the form of tiny droplets carried by the ash and dust particles in the smoke. A severe reaction may occur if a sensitive person inhales or is exposed to this smoke.
The plant produces clusters of cream to yellow green inconspicuous flowers during the months of June and July. The berries that appear by September are clustered, globular, waxy, and green-to-yellow in colour.
Thames Regional Ecological Association is a key environmental organization in London. They are advocates for tangible change in public behaviour and are a wonderfully open, inclusive and collaborative group, and they work hard to support a wide variety of community groups, such as summer festivals.
Former Artistic Director
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