Texas-sized Mosquito or Crane Fly?

I am writing to let you know to RELAX. It’s ok. This large Texas-sized creature is actually called a Crane Fly.

crane fly matingMay is the time of year when the weather finally warms up and people start enjoying the outdoors again. Until, one night, along comes a giant pre-historic looking mosquito. It lands on the plant next to them and complete chaos follows. Parents call the children, grab the dog, run inside and slam the door shut. Certainly, this creature would suck the life-blood out of everyone in the family. But wait! This is not a mosquito! The good news is that this insect is a harmless crane fly and there is no need for alarm. They do not bite or sting at all.

They are called many things, including mosquito hawks, which actually refer to the dragonfly that feeds on mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the crane fly does not feed on mosquitoes. Nor do they bite. In fact, the adult crane fly does not feed at all. The larvae, referred to as “leatherjackets”, stay primarily underground. The larvae have chewing mouth parts and they prefer to feed on decomposing organic matter such as roots, leaves, wood on the forest floor, and soil in lawns and pastures. On warm, damp nights they will come above the soil surface to feed on plant material. In mid-May they enter the non-feeding pupal phase just below the soil surface and shortly thereafter emerge from the soil as adults.

My friend, Joel, captured the photo above of two crane flies mating. When they emerge as adults, their job is to mate and then deposit their eggs into the soil. Their lifespan is, on average, a couple of days.

All creatures have an important beneficial role to our ecosystem. In addition to serving as decomposers, the crane fly is an important food source for bats, birds, frogs, lizards, spiders, and other insects.

Crane Fly - Food source Even though they are not harmful, crane flies in large numbers can be quite a nuisance. Sometimes when you walk through or mow the grass the crane flies seem to swarm out. They may land on your clothing, hair, or face and cause you to do a dance that would rival anything Miley Cyrus does on stage. Right there in your front yard. (Gasp!)

What can be done to control the crane fly???

There are a few non-chemical things that can be done to help prevent the crane fly from entering your home. For one, Crane flies are attracted to light inside the house. So, at night some may fly in through an open door or window. You will usually find them flapping on a lamp shade or on the wall and that can be frustrating, too. Check all of the screens on the windows and doors of your home and make sure there are no holes or tears. Repair or replace any screens that are damaged. This will also help prevent other insects from entering your home. Also, you can reduce the number of exterior lights that you have on at night or else replace the regular bulb with one of the bug lights that emit a yellow color. The yellow bug bulb is not as attractive to the bugs that fly toward the light. I know the yellow bulbs are not nearly as attractive as the others, but neither is that giant black mark on your wall where you smacked a crane fly with the mail on your counter. ūüôā

Because of the short life span of the adult crane fly there is not a product that we can use to effectively manage them in or around your home. And, honestly, their lifespan as an adult is so short, many of them would die naturally before the spray would have a chance to do it’s job. ¬†Sadly, we are limited to educating you on this pest nuisance and to let you know that this will pass very soon. If you have any additional questions or concerns then please contact our office at The Bug Man ¬†in Murfreesboro¬†at 615-217-7284.

Ticks in Tennessee will be active this year

Ticks in Tennessee during the summer can be very frustrating. Actually, as I wrote this Ticks in Tennesseeblog there were several words describing ticks that floated to the surface: creepy, gross, worrisome, concerning… just to name a few. Mostly, people are very fearful. Not really about the tick, itself, but more about the diseases caused by the bite of a tick.

The best cure for tickborne dieases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to avoid getting bitten by ticks.

This is another one of those situations where pest-related problems concern our health. Since we are in the business of pest control and are not health professionals, we generally prefer not to comment on the medical conditions caused by the pest. We do recommend  information on the CDC site titled Symptoms of Tickborne Illness. If you have health symptoms that you suspect may be caused by a tick or other pest then we suggest that you contact your physician. What we can do is educate you on tick control in order to reduce the chance that you may be bitten by a tick.

Ticks are arachnids, not insects, and classified as an external parasite.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that ticks are actually in the same family (arachnid) as spiders, mites, and scorpions. They have 8 jointed legs and no antennae. They require  a blood meal from a host in order to survive. A tick will attach firmly while they slowly feed on the blood of their host. They will feed, unnoticed, for several days before they release their grasp. They will feed on mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

There have been many species of ticks found in Tennessee. The three most common species are the American dog tick, lone star tick, and brown dog tick. All of these common ticks have four life stages- egg, larva, nymph, and adult. According to Dr. Karen Vail in her article titled Common Ticks of Tennessee and Their Control, each of the stages, other than the egg, requires a separate animal host to complete its development, which all together may be two or three years long. Each blood-engorged female leaves her host animal and lays a single mass of 3,000 to 6,000 eggs.

Ticks in Tennessee are most active from April through September. Though, it is not uncommon to see some tick activity through the winter months. During periods of high activity we recommend that you remain extra vigilant. Avoid areas known to be infested with ticks such as wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. If you have to walk though these types of areas we recommend that you apply a repellent according label directions. Also, walk in the center of trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation.

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from climbing up the inside of the pant legs. Also, wear light-colored clothing so that you can detect ticks more easily. Upon returning from tick infested areas make sure to thoroughly check your body for ticks. You will want to quickly remove all ticks that are found.

Modify your environment to make it less desirable to ticks

Maybe you’re not going on a hike in the woods but you want to reduce or prevent a tick infestation around your home. There are several non-chemical things that you can do:

Make your surroundings less inviting to rodents and wildlife. They are often carriers of ticks. Reduce the rodents and you will reduce the ticks. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Repair areas where rodents can enter the home.
  • Remove wood piles and debris that make a good nesting area for rodents.
  • Keep pet food stored in sealed containers
  • Keep the lawn mowed and weeds to a minimum

    Lincoln is a tick free dog
    Lincoln is our precious golden doodle

Don’t forget about your four-legged babies, too. Please discuss tick treatment for your pets with a veterinarian. ¬†There are many¬†treatment methods available and something that works well for one pet may not be best for the other. Cats and some breeds of dogs can be sensitive to some products. So, it is always best to check with your vet, first. Also, you will want to inspect your pets and their bedding frequently for ticks.

The final measure for tick management is to hire a professional such as The Bug Man¬†in Murfreesboro to treat the exterior of your home. Our technicians are very knowledgeable about areas that make a great tick habitat and areas that don’t. Most people are surprised to learn that ticks will avoid direct sunlight. So, treating the entire lawn is rarely necessary. We have noticed that customers on our mosquito program usually do not have a problem with ticks. This is probably due to the fact that mosquitoes and ticks have similar habitats such as the trees, shrubs, and shaded areas. Check out our blog,¬†Mosquitoes‚Ķ The Bug Man to the rescue and contact our office at 615-217-7284 if we can answer any questions for you.

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Mosquitoes… The Bug Man to the rescue

The Spring weather brings with it the pesky mosquitoes

Mosquito Service offered by The Bug ManSpring is finally here and with the warm sun, the rain, and the flowers blooming, unfortunately, the pesky mosquitoes emerge and chase you back indoors.  How can you enjoy the beautiful outdoor living areas that have been created when the mosquitoes are on attack?  The Bug Man has the answers, but we ask for some help along the way for a successful result.

Everyone we talk to is familiar with some of the diseases that can be carried and transmitted by the mosquito, but that is not what this article is about.  While important, we feel that precautions can be taken to minimize the risk associated with these diseases. Our goal is to educate and not to frighten people.

Take precautions when enjoying the great outdoors

When it comes to mosquitoes, we recommend that each person take steps to help with the mosquito populations.  A few things that can be done is to remove and drain all standing water from the yard, including buckets, bird baths, old tires, planters, and toys.  Mosquitoes can lay eggs in just a capful of water!  And it can take as little as 5 days for the mosquito to become an adult.  While outside during mosquito season, it is recommended to use a repellent to help keep the mosquitoes from biting.  Just be sure to read the label instructions for proper use.  Another fact: mosquitoes do not actually bite, they have piercing sucking mouthparts.  So they actually suck your blood.  Pretty creepy if you think about it, but facts are facts.

The Bug Man Mosquito Management Program

The Bug Man offers the Mosquito Management Program for outdoor living areas around the home.  We have been providing our mosquito service to our customers in Rutherford County for over 11 years.  We expanded this service to the Lebanon and Mt. Juliet neighborhoods in 2011.  Our mosquito management service consists of an inspection of the property, removal or recommend the removal of breeding sites, apply a larvicide to areas of standing water, apply a residual adulticide to the bushes, shrubs, and other resting sites around the perimeter of the outdoor living areas.  Treatments are generally completed on a monthly cycle, but may be requested for a specific party or event that you have scheduled.

Robert Cunningham, the technician in the photo,  currently services the Robert servicing an accountsouthwest side of Murfreesboro, Bell Buckle, Rockvale, and Eagleville.  Robert has been part of The Bug Man team for over 8 years, and is very knowledgeable about mosquitoes and many other pest issues.

If you live in Murfreesboro, Smyrna, LaVergne, Christiana, Nolensville, Rockvale, Lascassas, Walterhill, Mt. Juliet, or Lebanon and have a pool, patio, or other outdoor living space, The Bug Man Mosquito Management Service is your answer to a peaceful outdoor space.  Contact us for more information and to schedule service.

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Tips for Reducing Mosquitoes

Here are a few tips to help ward off the mosquitoes in your area.

To aid in the effort to keep your home bite-free, check for mosquito motels around your property. It doesn’t take long to scope out your property to look for potential mosquito hangouts.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

That short, yet succinct statement is true right now in Middle Tennessee. Especially in the area of cicadas vs.mosquitoes.

Since they only come around every 13 years, it seems like cicadas would be the biggest news in the bug world. However, due to a lot of rain and hot weather in April, those pesky pests called mosquitoes are making a quite a big bite in the pest popularity contest. Literally!

To fight the bite, The Bug Man offers a mosquito management program during the summer months that is intended to help reduce the breeding and resting areas of mosquitoes around your property. Call (615.217.7284) or email (service@thebugman.us) our office for more information.

To aid in the effort to keep your home bite-free, check for mosquito motels around your property. It doesn’t take long to scope out your property to look for potential mosquito hangouts. Here are a few tips to help ward off the mosquitoes in your area.

  • Dispose of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles, plastic sheeting, or any water-holding containers.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
  • Fill in or drain low places (puddles, ruts) in yard.
  • Keep drains, ditches, and culverts clean of weeds and trash so water can flow properly.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water.
  • Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or puddles.
  • Empty plastic wading pools at least once per week and store indoors when not in use.
  • Make sure your backyard pool is cared for while away from the home.
  • Fill in tree holes and stumps that hold water with sand or cement
  • Change the water in bird baths, plant pots, and drip trays at least once per week.
  • Keep the grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house where adult mosquitoes may rest.
  • Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing.
  • Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.
  • Stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows.
  • Check window and door screens on the home.¬† Be sure they are in good condition to seal out mosquitoes.
  • Wear light colored clothing, plus long sleeve shirts and long pants for extra protection.
  • Use repellants on skin and clothing while outdoors.