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‘Wicked Bugs’ full of bedtime stories for bug geeks and twisted children


Review written by Jackson Griffith

We’re always looking for good reading material about pests. And while we do enjoy curling up with, say, an E.O. Wilson tome on eusocial insects, we understand that most people don’t have the patience for that particular form of entertainment. Fortunately, Wicked Bugs, a new book by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 272 pages, $18.95, hardcover), provides the kind of easy, accessible read that anyone can pick up and enjoy.


In the book’s introduction, Stewart points out that, from an entomologist’s or word-stickler’s point of view, using “bugs” in her book’s title may be problematic – while, in common language, “bug” means any arthropod that crawls or flies, the word in its technical application means a member of the order Hemiptera, specifically an insect with mouthparts adapted for sucking. But Stewart isn’t an entomologist or even a scientist; she’s a writer with a keen eye for good subject matter, and when it comes to insects, spiders and other creepy-crawlies, she can tell some nice little yarns – call this book “bedtime stories for bug geeks and slightly twisted children.”


The subjects of Wicked Bugs are arranged alphabetically, without regard to phylum, class or order, with certain ones flagged as “horrible,” “painful,” “dangerous,” “destructive” or “deadly.” The stories typically run three pages – and this isn’t a massive tome; its trim size is a little smaller than a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew book – each one sketching out a pest and its relationship with us. Accompanying the text are some nice black-and-white illustrations by Briony Morrow-Cribbs that contribute to the vintage textbook feel of Wicked Bugs.


If you’re looking for a nice little summer read, or just want to pick up some interesting but general knowledge about pests without cracking a textbook, Wicked Bugs may be just the thing for you. – Jackson Griffith


Book can be found here


Thank you Jackson for this great review!!

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Bed bugs - Don't let the bed bugs bite


Thursday, January 27, 2011 


"Goodnight girls. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite."bed bug

"Aahh! Don't say that," screamed my older daughter.

Who would have thought that a harmless term of endearment from childhood could evoke fits of terror in our kids? Ah, but you see, when we were little, there was no "bed bug" epidemic sweeping lower Manhattan and no danger of hearing about it on the 6 o'clock news. I have to admit, they scare me as well, and it's all I can do not to scratch myself to sleep at night.

When you stop and think about it, many children's stories and nursery rhymes are downright terrifying. When I was 5, our family was preparing to move into our very own home after years of apartment living. About a month before the big move, the "Wizard of Oz" aired on television and my parents agreed I was old enough to watch it. Wrong. I spent the next month waking with a reoccurring nightmare that the wicked witch would pick up our new house and toss it to the ground, just like she had done with Dorothy's home.

Ironically, when Ally was 2 1/2, she became obsessed with the wicked witch after watching "The Wizard of Oz" (thanks to the magic of VCR's, my kids didn't have to wait a year to catch an annual televised event) over and over again with her big brother.

"Why her face geen, mommy?" she'd ask with her big brown eyes as wide as saucers. "The wicka witch won't get me, right mommy? I like her geen face," she'd say, hoping that flattery would keep her safe.

When my brother was young, he was terrified of "Hansel and Gretel." Perhaps he was afraid of abandonment, or perhaps he hated clogs (in our version, Hansel's were brown, while Gretel wore green), but whatever the reason, he would quickly flip past the pages of "Hansel and Gretel" in our Brother's Grimm storybook and start to cry if I suggested that my mom read it to us. I loved the pictures of the candy-covered house and reveled that in the end, clever Gretel outsmarted the evil witch by pushing her into the hot oven.

Then there's that crazy lady with all those kids. No, I'm not talking about the Octomom or Michelle Duggar, although clearly Mother Goose was ahead of her time. I'm referring, of course, to the old lady who lived in a shoe. Nothing terrifies little kids more than the thought of a spanking, except maybe the threat of an early bedtime. Well, that sadistic old woman beat her poor kids and then sent them to bed — now that's positively chilling for a 4-year-old!

Click here to read the entire bed bug article

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Christmas movies with a buggy twist part one- Home Alone


By: Sheena Campbell
San Diego Clark Pest Control 

If you've never seen Home Alone, you definitely need to!!

This movie starts out the night before the McAlister family  plansHome Alone to fly to Paris, France for Christmas. Within the first 20min of the movie, we get the distinct impression that 8yr old Kevin, the baby of the family, is a bit of a pain and no one, including his parents, seem to want to deal with him. After causing a bit of havoc in the home, he ends the night by saying he wishes everyone in his family would leave him alone. The next morning, everyone has to rush out of the home and, in that rush, they forget Kevin. Once Kevin realizes he's left alone, he goes crazy and does things he's no supposed to (jumps on his parents bed, runs around the home yelling  and eats a bunch of ice cream while watching a gangster movie).

Once Kevin's mom realizes they've left Kevin, they're already in the air and it takes her a while to finally convince a couple to give her their tickets for a flight from France to New York to get a flight back to the United States (she "convinces" them with $500, tickets for a flight in 2 days to the same destination, a watch, some earrings and a ring). She can't even call the home because of a storm that knocked out the phone lines so she's forced to hope that Kevin would be OK. Back to Kevin...he fights 2 burglars, who've hit other homes in the neighborhood, by out-smarting them and booby-trapping the home. He finally calls the police, gives them the address to the home across the street and they are promptly arrested.

By this point, which is late Christmas Eve, Kevin's mother is in a Budget truck with a polka band that she hitched a ride from. Kevin goes to bed wishing to get his family, not presents, for Christmas and promises to never be a pain again. On Christmas morning, his whole family comes home; he hugs them, they miss him and it's all mushy and awesome.

I'll be honest...I really don't remember this movie being as good as I remembered it. This came out when I was young so the only thing I really remembered about this movie was how Macaulay Culkin puts his hands up to his cheeks and screams; this is what most adults and kids did when this movie was released. And it annoyed me. But this is an amazing movie and it's a perfect family movie or to watch by yourself. There were a few parts where I actually laughed loud and hard. So why is this review in the Clark Pest Control blog? Well, Kevin's older brother, Buzz, has a tarantula. I'm not sure what kind, I'd have to ask Fred about it, but it's a pretty common kind. I liked when Buzz said that he fed the tarantula "mouse guts...so he should be good for a few days." Now, I don't know too much about tarantulas but I'm pretty sure they don't eat mouse guts-but I could be wrong. The part where IHome Alone Tarantula laughed the most was when Kevin the tarantula on Marv's face (he's one of the burglars). After watching the extras, I found out Daniel Stern, AKA Marv, was originally told that he was going to have a mechanical tarantula placed on his face but when he got on set, they said that wasn't the case. The scream that Daniel Stern managed to create was so funny, which he said he tried to create from the movie Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock); and it's pretty convincing.

All-in-all, this is an amazing movie and I encourage everyone to re-watch it if it's been a while. It's a completely different movie if you watch it as an adult versus watching it as a child.

Commentary by your Clark Pest blogger:
I love this movie, and loved they used a Tarantula. This specific kind of Tarantula was a G. rosea aka the Chilean Rose Hair, its the most common species in the pet trade. Now as an experienced handler and keeper, Tarantulas do not eat rodent guts!

Great article Sheena!!

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Clark Bug Zoo featured on Good Day Sacramento


Clark Pest Control's Bug Zoo was invited to appear on Good Day Sacramento last Tuesday to play a fun game with morning host, Mark S. Allen..."Guess that Pest" and help promote the Lodi Grape Festival this weekend. 

Mark held a Madagascar Hissing Roach, Cave Spider and a really cool Tarantula. 

Click here to view the Bug Zoo Segment 

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Annual Bug Day educates youth about insects

Published: 07/27 6:56pm
By: Meagan Choi
kids learn about insects
Sam Mikalonis / The State News

From left, Lansing residents Ainsley and Hadley Lumanog, 6 and 3, pet a tarantula on Tuesday morning at the Michigan 4-H Children?s Garden for Bug Day. It was the Lumanog sisters’ first time at Bug Day but they were not afraid to lean in and touch the large arachnid or the cockroaches.

Wedged into a corner of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, Gary Parsons carefully lifted a scorpion from its cage to give the children, who were crowded around the table for a better view.

Some took a couple steps back, but others leaned in for a closer look.

“They’re seeing things that they didn’t even know existed,” said Parsons, insect collection manager in MSU’s Department of Entomology. “Most of these kids have never picked up a bug, and to be able to hold a tarantula or touch a scorpion is a big deal for them.”

More than 175 children and parents attended the seventh annual Bug Day on Tuesday at Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, said Jessica Albright, education coordinator for the garden.

“We really do it just to expose the kids to the insects that are in the garden and kind of give them an appreciation for the insects,” Albright said. “A lot of kids are afraid of bugs, so we try to fulfill that awareness.”

Various stations were set up around the gardens with hands-on activities, such as making a bug hat out of a paper plate, creating an insect out of pipe cleaners and tasting honey with graham crackers.

One of the busiest areas throughout the morning was the table with insects and workers from the Department of Entomology’s Bug House.

“It’s a great partnership — we really try to maintain and foster our relationship with (the Bug House),” Albright said. “It brings a lot of people in, because the Bug House isn’t open every day like we are.”

The Bug House is exclusively funded by the Department of Entomology, Parsons said.

“The university doesn’t contribute anything to it,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are not open all the time.”

Emily McKay, a horticulture junior, worked at the welcome table and said the Bug Day offered exciting, interactive activities for the children.

“It’s a great day to learn and get involved within the garden and be excited about the creatures,” McKay said. “There is a lot of beneficial insects that help the garden.”

There were also insects that were not typically observed in the backyard, said Barbara Norton of Dowagiac, Mich., who brought her grandson.

“Children in the city don’t have an opportunity (to see insects) very often, unless they go in the country with their parents,” Norton said.

Seven-year-old Korben Leung of East Lansing came to the event, despite his dislike of bugs, and said he enjoyed seeing a giant moth and observatory bee hive.

“I have seen lots of amazing things,” Korben said.

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Sacramento Bed Bugs - The Bed Bugs are here!


Sacramento may not know it, but the bed bugs are here

The shape of a flax seed and the color of blood, they hide in cracks and crevices, crawling out for a blood meal in the dark of night.

They're well known in San Francisco, where the health department has its own bedbug regulations. And in New York, where a bedbug attack early this month forced temporary shutdowns at two Abercrombie & Fitch stores.

In Sacramento, the quarter-inch parasites have yet to surface in the mainstream. Yet they're still there, hiding.

"It's on the rise. There have been more calls about it because people are getting infestations in their rental units," said Tom Curl, county code enforcement officer.

The National management Association reported a 71 percent rise in U.S. infestations since 2001. And a University of Kentucky study found that 91 percent of pest professionals had noted a bedbug increase. "It's a problem of almost epidemic proportions being reported in each of the 50 states," said spokeswoman Missy Henriksen.

Unlike San Francisco, officials in Sacramento don't track bedbug cases.

"I don't think Sacramento city or county does a good job to make sure it's easy for a person to report a bedbug problem," said Bill Gaither, director of Pest Control Operators of California.

The county's health officer, Dr. Glennah Trochet, said reporting bedbugs isn't required. "No one is responsible for keeping tabs on it because bedbugs don't cause diseases," she said.

Property owners in the city can face initial fines of $1,400 for failing to eradicate pests such as cockroaches. But they get a pass on bedbugs, which are considered a civil problem between landlords and tenants, said code enforcement officer Bill Hutcheon.

Curl said the county is taking small steps to deal with bedbugs. "We recently received direction that we do respond to bedbugs. Even though it's not a vector, it's a nuisance and it's going to spread to other rental units." Curl said the department can charge property owners with improper maintenance fees if bedbugs go untreated.

"It's not as reported here, but it's just as big a problem as in San Francisco," said Martyn Hopper of Pest Control Operators.

Chuck Ehmann, the department head of Clark Pest Control, said that two years ago he received a maximum of 10 bedbug calls a year. Today, he gets that many calls a month.

"We didn't know if this was going to be a little visit from the past or a new reality. They're not going away," said Jim Steed, owner of Neighborly Pest Management. Bedbug treatments account for a fraction of Steed's business, but the issue is high on the psychological radar, he said.

The mental impact sneaks up in the form of insomnia, phantom sensations and paranoia that the creatures are lodged in personal belongings. Most bedbugs are found in or near beds, according to the University of California's Pest Notes. The rest hide in upholstered furniture, bedroom cabinets, baseboards, wallpaper and carpets.

"Professionals who treat them say they are the single most difficult pest to eradicate -- worse than termites, ants and rodents," said Henriksen. The problem lies in their ability to hide in cracks as thin as a credit card.

Professionals have traditionally used chemical Insecticides but are researching less toxic and more effective methods such as heating a living space to about 140 degrees for a few hours and setting up traps. But bedbugs, which can lay up to 500 eggs in a four-month lifetime, are notorious repeat offenders, sometimes forcing pest control officers to apply several treatments to a single unit. Costs can swing from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. As part of the treatment, residents must remove clothing and bedding from their living quarters.

Pest control providers say infestations are usually no one's fault. Clean and clutter-free living spaces help abate infestation, but as the New York Times Magazine reported in an article about the spread of bedbugs in an affluent New York neighborhood, bedbugs are equal-opportunity pests.

"You'd think that cheaper motels would be bigger targets but that's not the case," said Hopper.

The bedbug can increase landlord-tenant stress. The Rental Housing Association responded to the crisis by creating a bedbug addendum to its standard lease agreement last year. "It provides a layer of protection for the owner or manager," said senior deputy director Cory Koehler. "The resident shouldn't be able to come into a rental unit that is pristine and not follow good housekeeping standards."

Advocates with Legal Aid of Northern California said bedbug addendums have grown in popularity, but they maintain that the pests are an owner's responsibility. "Even with an addendum, you have to prove that it's the tenant's fault," said Martha Valles, a housing paralegal, and the parasite's elusive behavior can make that difficult.

The annoying insect that can leave itchy red welts, cause psychological damage, and trigger a slew of economic and legal complications has the potential to become lethal, some experts warn.

"We're lucky they haven't been inside of disease cycles yet," said Dr. Vernard Lewis, a University of California, Berkeley, entomologist. "Can the situation of bedbugs turn for the worst? Of course it can because evolution happens."

www.sacbee.com/. Copyright (c) 2010, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.
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Clark Pest Control Bug Zoo is a BIG HIT!!


bug zoo

Yesterday we visited our first school and day camp. We started our day with 3 seperate presentations at Maryhill Pre-school, the kids loved learning about Bugs and visiting our zoo display. Timmy the Termite made an appearance and the kids loved him!

Clark Pest Zoo Crew


Our afternoon presentation went great at Camp Hutchins in Lodi. We spoke to an older group of kids who were full of questions and couldn't get enough of our bugs.

Today we are heading to the La Petite Academy here in Lodi, we will post more pictures from todays event later this week!

If you are an educator and would like to have the Clark Bug Zoo visit your school please contact:

Fred Speer
209-368-7152 ext. 259

This is a free program offered by Clark Pest Control and is offered to all schools in the Central Valley, South Bay, North Bay and East Bay Areas.

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Bugalicious: chefs mix it up for adventurous diners


The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Crickets have hopped back on the menu at Toronto's Atlantic restaurant.

Chef Nathan Isberg admits the deep-fried critters are a novelty but says "there's some people who really dig them."

Strange though it may seem to the ordinary Canadian palate, there are many people who delight in platters of ants, scorpions, worms and even bullfrogs -- if they are cooked just right.

Isberg says some diners may be turned off by the squishy or crunchy delicacies. But for more adventurous types, he's happy to whip up dishes like chili-fried crickets with greens, cricket-fried rice or grilled crickets and jellyfish on a skewer.

The insects were briefly swatted off the menu until an insurer recently gave the OK for their return. Isberg uses rosemary or oregano to spice them up but admits he doesn't cook them every night since it takes a while to raise them to the right size.

"If people are particularly interested in it then I have them available, but they are pretty labour-intensive."

The manager of Toronto's public health food safety program says he has seen crickets, mealworms and other unusual delicacies during his 32 years of inspections.

Pests usually come to mind when people think of insects at restaurants but Jim Chan says most bugs are edible if cooked and handled properly.

He's seen frozen turtles in a supermarket freezer, dried snakes at grocery stores and dried sea horses in herbal stores.

Sometimes, even an inspector's jaw will drop. Chan recalls a couple of years ago when a colleague opened a fridge at a Toronto banquet hall.

"There's the head of a deer sitting in the middle of the fridge," says Chan.

A couple of years ago in Toronto's east end, an inspector ordered an operator to open the box she was trying to hide under a kitchen counter.

"There was a whole bag of frogs, live American bullfrogs -- those are the big ones. And it was just hopping around. She was going to slaughter those frogs to serve in the restaurant," says Chan.

The deer head and frogs were seized over permit and food safety issues.

Insects are more often served at special events rather than restaurants in Canada. But such cuisine is catching on at authentic Mexican restaurants in the United States, says Jeff Stewart of Creepy Crawly Cooking in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Before, only 10 to 25 per cent of those attending special events he catered would taste insects, Stewart says. Now, it's closer to 75 per cent.

At the 5th Annual Bug-a-licious Insect Food Festival in February, Stewart cooked up cricket candy and white chocolate crickets, Chinese scorpion soup and fresh ant fettuccine alfredo.

"Is it healthy, is it good for you?" asked Stewart. "Yeah, if you look at the nutritional content, they're very good for you."

Still, chefs should check with their sources since wild bugs can be exposed to herbicides, he says.


Click here to read the entire article

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Lots of bugs to swallow



The warm days of spring fill the air with -- I should write something lovely and enjoyable here, but I will be realistic -- bugs.

Let's face it, unlike the colder seasons, spring and summer are a time for insects. They crawl or hatch from moist soil, ponds, streams, behind bark and the underside of twigs to flit, flutter and fly through the delightful vernal air.

To some, flying insects are a necessary evil, but to others, they are breakfast, lunch, dinner and an anytime snack. Those others are insectivorous birds, and there are many.

Indeed, most of the birds that migrate into our region in the spring come here for the insects. Warblers, swifts, flycatchers, vireos, kinglets, gnatcatchers, thrushes, waxwings and swallows are all voracious insect feeders. Some of our year-round species change their diets in the spring. Titmice, chickadees and others give up seeds and turn to bugs.

Part of the delight of bird watching is observing the various ways in which birds feed on insects.

Warblers work the outer branches of trees when they are in flower. There the birds capture tiny insects as the bugs clamber over the blooms in search of their own meal. Flycatchers perch at the ends of limbs watching for larger flying insects passing by. When they spot a juicy fly, beetle or some other insect, they launch into the air and capture the bug on the wing. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and others look for insects crawling on the trunks of trees or hiding in bark crevices. They wander vertical surfaces to probe and poke recesses, pulling out soft caterpillars and beetle larva.

The most graceful of the avian insectivores are swallows and swifts.

Western Pennsylvania is the summer home to six breeding species of swallows. These include the tree, northern rough-winged, barn, cliff, and bank swallows and the purple martin.

Swallows are supreme fliers. Their long, pointed wings, forked tail and relatively short body give them an aerodynamic advantage for catching insects on the wing. They are often found in loose flocks swooping and diving over streams, rivers, ponds and lakes picking off insects emerging from the water.

I vividly remember spending spring evenings with the late Joe Grom, naturalist at North Park in Pittsburgh, sitting on a picnic bench at the edge of North Park Lake watching large migrating flocks of swallows. From that vantage point, we were often able to see all six Western Pennsylvania swallows in a single evening.

Of the six, the purple martin is the largest native swallow. They are famous for their communal roosts. For many years, there was a huge purple martin house in Somerset. The nest box was fashioned after the iconic Somerset County Courthouse near which it stood. Unfortunately, tropical storm Agnes in 1972, dumped torrential rain on the Laurel Highlands for a week. Rain is a problem for flying insects, and very few were in the air for seven days.

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Napa Pests - World's top bug sleuths team to fight Napa moth


Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News 

FRESNO, Calif.—European entomologists have joined colleagues from across the U.S. to focus their magnifying glasses on Napa Valley grapevines and their problem-solving skills on how to keep a hungry moth from destroying some of the world's most valuable fruit.

"I feel like the Calvary is riding to the rescue. But we didn't wait for them to get here to circle the wagons," said Dave Whitmer, the agricultural commissioner of Napa County.


The cadre is key to an intensifying state and federal battle against the European grapevine moth as it grips California's premier wine country and one of its most famous industries. The estimated retail value of California wine sold in the U.S. in 2009 was $17.9 billion.

Already the moth has forced a state quarantine across much of the Napa Valley that will restrict movement of fruit and equipment during harvest. Yet despite the crackdown, the voracious eater hitchhiked this month into neighboring Sonoma County, where state mapping for another quarantine is in the works.

As the weather warms and larvae emerge from eggs laid last year, state and federal agriculture officials hope the scientists from France, Italy, Germany and Chile—where the moth already exists—can help form a plan to fight it.

"We're using them to help us make decisions," said the USDA's Larry Hawkins, as he sleuthed Napa back roads..

Among the questions being considered are whether farmers will contain the moth inside the quarantine or if their methods to eradicate the moth will risk some vintners' organic certification. 
Click here to read the entire article 
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