Posts tagged mosquito

Gnat Attack

   If you’ve spent any time outdoors this spring in Eastern Iowa, you’ve probably seen them. Swarms of black flies –most people call them gnats – that surround their victims in a frenzied cloud.

   Bug experts say there’s not much you can do to protect yourself against black flies. The pests come out during the day; while mosquitoes come out toward evening, so you can either lock your doors and stay inside or put up with the huge welts they’ve been known to leave. See story here: http://tinyurl.com/mnqwen

    Removing the gnats’ habitat can reduce their population, as well as the number of mosquitoes, which start to appear about the time the gnats die. Linn County Public Health  monitors for mosquitoes, which carry risk of diseases such as West Nile virus. Residents can report bad infestations to the health department at (319) 892-6000. Workers are using larvicide to control mosquito larvae in standing water, but the same can’t be used against black flies, which live as larva in fast-moving water such as rivers.

   Both insects made my top 10 list of bad bugs: https://cindyha.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/bugged-by-bugs/

  What makes your’s?

Leave a comment »

Bugged by bugs?

  

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

 Spring in Iowa is too fleeting. Rare are those 70-degree days with cool nights before the air explodes with humidity and bugs begin their annual invasion. I can look at healthy green potato plants today and know that in a week or so the Colorado potato beetle will begin its defoliation quest. Same is true of the lush rose bushes that succomb ever earlier to the dreaded Japanese beetle, a copper-colored foreign invader.

   Because of the devastation they wreak on my plants, the Japanese beetle and potato beetle rank number one and two on my list of “bad bugs.” I was enjoying my backyard garden last night trying to think of others when a mosquito bit my leg. Mosquitoes= #3.

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

   Here are the others: 4) gnats or whatever those little black bugs are that bite behind the ears. 5) chiggers – not an insect, but larvae of a specific family of mites – the Trombiculidae. If you’ve ever suffered through chigger bites, you’ll know why these are on my list. 6) wasps – I try to leave them alone, but they seem ubiquitous this year and more aggressive – building wherever they take a liking, which includes my back porch and my sons’ club house.  7) ticks – again, not an insect, but my general worry over them keeps me from enjoying the outdoors at times. 8) Ants – luckily we don’t have  fire ants like they do in the south, but they’re just a pain when they decide to come in the house. 9) termites – again a general anxiety thing. 10) Emerald ash borer – not here in Iowa yet, but a preemptive disdain for a foreign invader that will someday devastate our ash trees. 

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer

   What makes your list? I’m sure I’ll think of more, now that our perfect spring days are in the past.

Comments (7) »

Human Dragonfly

2008_winter_games_turtle   Dragonflies are the most awesome insects. Not only are they beautiful, with their large eyes, transparent wings and sometimes jewel-toned bodies, but they consume mass quantities of mosquitoes and other bad bugs. I’ve seen them at lakes, but they also make regular visits to the city plot where I garden. They are fascinating to watch. If you happen to be trekking to western Iowa this weekend, you can actually “be” a dragonfly.

  

   Jen Johnson, executive director of Active Okoboji, said the group is collaborating on The People’s Art Project with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (a partner with University Hygienic Laboratory and UI Continuing Education), ArtsLIVE and the Friends of Lakeside Lab. Last year, the project used 173 volunteers to create a giant turtle.  This year, they’re making a human dragonfly.

 

   The groups are looking for people to become part of a human puzzle on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, on the lake ice of Little Miller’s Bay on West Okoboji.  The Art Project will create a gigantic image of a dragonfly to raise environmental awareness.
 

   To participate, dress warmly in primary colors and meet at 12:30 p.m. at Peace Corner, located on the southwest corner of highways 9 and 86 in Spirit Lake. From there, buses will shuttle volunteers to the lake. The event includes a bonfire, warm drinks, snacks and door prizes. Observers are welcome.

 

   Jen said an aerial photo and video will be shot. More “bugs” will be coming this summer, when semi-sized metal sculptures will be displayed throughout the Lakeside Lab area. The bug art display will run July 4-Oct. 14.
 

   For more information, contact Jen Johnson at 712-332-6507 or jen@activeokoboji.org

  

The photo above is last year’s turtle. You can see more photos from last year’s event at: http://www.activeokoboji.org/

 

Leave a comment »

What bugs you?

    Something under my back porch steps caught my eye. That one piece of plastic from a backyard toy led to the discovery of other “treasures” half-buried by grass: a golf ball, broken rain gauge, half of a plastic Easter egg and an empty plastic cup. Make that, partially empty cup. A tiny amount of rainwater had trickled inside, offering the perfect breeding spot for mosquitoes. In fact, any of those items, except the golf ball, could potentially provide what mosquitoes need to multiply. It doesn’t take much.

    Ken Holscher, associate professor and extension entomologist for Iowa State University, said he wasn’t precisely sure how much water is needed for a mosquito to complete its life cycle, but said if there is at least 1 inch of water present for 7-10 days, (or as long as it takes to complete their immature development) and sufficient organic material to serve as a larval food supply, that’s all that’s needed to produce a batch of mosquitoes.

   Holscher said mosquito larvae are considered to be “filter feeders” that use their mouthparts to filter and feed on bacteria and microscopic bits of algae, fungi, and other organic detritus in the water.  Cleaner water will typically produce fewer mosquito larvae.  However, the standing water that collects in outdoor areas during the summer will usually have enough organic material to produce at least some mosquitoes.

   The Culex species of mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis and other diseases that cause brain infection, like to breed in containers, such as mine, or old tires.

   It didn’t take long for me to pitch the half-buried treasures. I’ll keep a closer eye on my bird bath and fountain, as well, to make my yard less hospitable to these unwanted summer pests.

 

Leave a comment »