Archive for May, 2010

Snails on Methamphetamine: Memories Formed by Snails Under Influence of Meth Are Harder to Forget

This article has nothing to with pest control but the title of the article intrigued me enough to read it  as I hope it will for you. ~ Jim Beucher

                                                                        Crystal meth (methamphetamine) is a highly addictive drug that seduces victims by increasing self-esteem and sexual pleasure, and inducing euphoria. But once hooked, addicts find the habit hard to break.

Barbara Sorg from Washington State University, explains that amphetamines enhance memory. ‘In addiction we talk about the “drug memory” as a “pathological memory.” It is so potent as to not be easily forgotten,’ she explains. As memory plays an important role in addiction, Sorg wondered whether it might be possible to find out more about the effects of meth on memory by looking at the effect it has on a humble mollusc: the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis.

Lymnaea hold memories about when to breathe through their breathing tubes (pneumostomes) in a three neuron network, which is much simpler than the colossal circuits that hold our memories. Ken Lukowiak from University of Calgary, Canada, has been working on the mechanisms of memory formation in these snails for most of his career, so he and Sorg decided to team up to find out whether a dose of meth could improve the snails’ memories in the way it does human memories. They publish their discovery that memories formed by snails under the influence of meth are harder to forget, which could help us to understand human addiction, on 28 May 2010 in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

First Sorg and her students had to discover whether a dose of meth could affect the snails’ breathing behaviour. According to Lukowiak, the snails breathe through their skins when oxygen levels are high, but when oxygen levels drop the snails extend their pneumostomes above the water’s surface to supplement the supply. As the drug easily crosses the snail’s skin, the team immersed the snails in de-oxygenated pond water spiked with meth, and watched to see how it affected their breathing. The snails stopped raising their pnemostomes at 1 and 3.3·μmol·l-1 meth, so having found a dose that altered the snail’s behaviour, the team began testing its effects on the mollusc’s long term memory.

The team trained the snails to remember to keep their pneumostomes closed when oxygen levels were low by poking them with a stick every time they tried to open their pneumostomes. Giving the snails two training sessions separated by an hour, the team knew that the molluscs would hold the memory for over 24·h, but what would happen if they trained the snails in meth-laced water?

Testing the snails in de-oxygenated pond water 24 hours later, the team were surprised to see that the snails seemed to have no recollection of their training, popping their pneumostomes above the water’s surface. Maybe meth did not affect the snails’ memories. But then Lukowiak remembered: ‘If you put snails in a novel context even though they have memory they respond as if they don’t have memory,’ he says. Without meth in the water, the snails were ignoring their memory. However, when the team reintroduced meth to the test water, the snails suddenly remembered to keep their pneumostomes closed. This could explain why it’s so hard for human addicts to kick the habit when returning to old haunts that trigger the addiction memory.

Next the team wondered whether meth could improve the snails’ memories. First they immersed the snails in meth-laced pond water, then they moved them into regular de-oxygented pond water and gave them a training session that the snails should only recall for a few hours. In theory the snails should have forgotten their training 24 hours later, but would the meth improve the snails’ memories so they remembered to keep their pneomostomes closed a day later? It did. A dose of meth prior to training had improved the snails’ memories, allowing them to recall a lesson that they should have already forgotten. And when the team tested whether they could mask the meth memory with another memory, they found that the meth memory was much stronger and harder to mask.

So memories formed under the influence of meth seem to be harder to forget, possibly because the drug disrupts the mechanisms for forgetting, and could help us to understand how amphetamines enhance memory in humans.

Snails by Dali

Faces of Meth


Remember, Just Say NO to Snails!


How do bumblebees get predators to buzz off?

 Bumblebees’ distinctive black and yellow “warning” colours may not be what protects them from flying predators researchers have found.

Toxic or venomous animals, like bumblebees, are often brightly coloured to tell would-be predators to keep away. However scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and Queen Mary, University of London have found a bumblebee’s defence could extend further than its distinctive colour pattern and may indeed be linked to their characteristic shape, flight pattern or buzzing sound. The study is published in the Journal of Zoology.

Dr Nigel Raine, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, explains: “The first time a bird eats a brightly coloured bumblebee it gets a nasty surprise. Remembering the bee’s bright colours may help the bird to avoid making the same mistake again. We wanted to test the idea that bumblebee species in the same location converge on a similar appearance to enhance protection from local predators.”

The team compared the loss rates of bumblebee populations with different colour patterns in the same environment — in Sardinia, Germany and the UK. If the colour pattern is important, the researchers expected that predators would be more likely to eat bees which looked very different to those they had previously encountered in their local area. But this is not what they found.

“Predators didn’t seem to target the unusually coloured bees from the non-native populations we tested. Perhaps the bumbling way in which all bumblebees fly, or their distinctive deep buzzing are more important clues to help would-be predators avoid a nasty sting,” says Dr Raine.

Birds see the world very differently to humans, particularly their ability to see light in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum. The team compared the colour patterns of different bumblebee populations and showed that in addition to the bright bands we can see, the white tip of the bumblebee’s tail is very obvious to birds as it reflects strongly in ultraviolet light. Such signals are also important to bees which detect ultraviolet markings on flowers which are invisible to us.

Dr Raine adds, “Although birds can tell the difference between the colour patterns of the different bee populations in our experiments, they probably find it hard to tell them apart in the fraction of a second when a bee flies past. Perhaps it’s better for the bird to steer clear of all animals which look, sound, or fly like a bumblebee to avoid the danger of eating one.”

Infections link to bees decline

Bees, BeeWeaver Apiaries Inc

A combination of fungi and viruses could be reponsible

US researchers claim to have identified a new potential cause for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees.

The disease is responsible for wiping out many beekeepers’ entire colonies over the past few years. Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture say the pathogens to blame are a fungus and a family of viruses. The results of the study were presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego, California. Jay Evans of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, a researcher on the study, says that when these two very different pathogens show up together, “there is a significant correlation with colony decline”. Daniel Weaver, a commercial beekeeper from Texas and head of the BeeWeaver Apiaries Inc, remembers the shock he experienced when he opened his hives in the early spring of 2007 – only to find them empty. “There was only a queen and ten or twelve bees left in a hive, clustered in one corner. There were broods, but very few of adult bees. “And there were no signs of poisoning or any other signs of acute mortality – there were no dead bees on the bottom of the hive or outside the hive,” said Weaver.

Other US beekeepers, many of whom have been in the business for a long time and have always had normal, healthy bee colonies, started noticing a similar problem at about the same time. Some had lost up to 90% of their bee populations, and every year since 2006 many have been reporting average losses of 30-35% of hives. Fungi and viruses When beekeepers sounded the alarm in 2007, scientists started looking for a cause of the mysterious disease. Continue reading the main story There were no signs of poisoning or any other signs of acute mortality – there were no dead bees on the bottom of the hive or outside the hive Daniel Weaver Commercial beekeeper They began to collect samples, primarily looking at sick bees from California and Florida, where most of the commercial pollination takes place in the US, and checking them visually for any signs of a problem. “The most puzzling thing was that the bees [we collected] didn’t show any of the pathologies or signs of disease – they looked perfectly healthy,” said Evans to the BBC. After having screened the samples, the researchers found that there was a higher presence of a fungus Nosema cerenae in infected colonies. But it was only recently that they were able to determine that it’s when bees are infected both with Nosema and with a group of RNA viruses that it is likely to lead to a collapse of a colony, said Evans.

 To prove their theory about a certain synergy between the two pathogens, Evans and his colleagues tried to trigger the decline of a honeybee colony artificially. “We’ve known for some time that the viruses are not good for the bees’ health, that they cause some visible symptoms like paralysis of the bees, shivering or inability to fly,” explained Evans. But getting the entire colony sick was tricky, he said. “You have to infect bees with a sort of natural level compared to what’s going on in the field and then more or less wait around to see how that translates into a colony effect like a colony collapse or decline,” said the researcher.

A beekeeper surrounded by bees, BeeWeaver Apiaries Inc 

US beekeepers sounded the alarm in 2007

So how do bees get CCD? Evans believes the infection is spread primarily through pollen on flowers.

Commercial beekeepers in the US tend to move their bees around the country in lorries, renting them to farmers to pollinate almonds in California, oranges in Florida and blueberries in Maine. They then bring them home – often in some other part of the US. When a sick bee leaves a virus on a plant, it is very likely that all other buzzing visitors will get infected – and bring the disease to their hive, elsewhere in the country. “Once the viruses become prevalent in a colony, they spread quite rapidly both by contact among the bees and often by a parasitic [Varroa destructor] mite that lives on them. “We’ve been able to see the viruses move within that mite and actually be transmitted from bee to bee by the mite,” said Evans. As for the fungus, it is transferred by the insects’ excretions, he said. “Nosema ceranae will germinate in the stomach of the bees, work its way into the rest of the body and exit when it’s excreted.

So when the sick bees defecate in the colony or near a colony, other bees accidentally pick up the spores of the fungus and ingest them – and that restarts the cycle,” explained the scientist. But some believe the fungus and viruses are not the primary causes of CCD. David Mendes, the president of the American Beekeeping Federation, says that biological pathogens are certainly involved – but that there might be something that affects the bees’ immune system in the first place that then allows these pathogens to infect them more easily. Continue reading the main story SYMPTOMS OF CCD Presence of young bees (broods) and very few adults Presence of the queen bee Presence of food stores with bee pollen and honey No dead bees in or around the hives “It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question: are the fungi and viruses a problem or are they a symptom?

Do they come in only when the health of the bees is in some jeopardy? I think the bees get sick because of a combination of factors,” said Mendes. He believes that it’s all about nutrition – in particular, the bees’ inability to process certain foods. And the pesticides are to blame for that, he says. A bleak future? “The whole approach to controlling pests with pesticides has really shifted [in the past few years] – for instance, now corn seeds, before they are planted, are dipped in pesticides,” said Mendes. “There’s research that says that it’s not supposed to affect the pollen and the fruit – well, we’ve done some analysis with our citrus trees and we have found levels of the poison in the pollen that the bees are feeding to their young.” Whatever the cause of CCD, Evans believes the cure isn’t in sight just yet.

 The main thing, he says, is for beekeepers to really focus on the nutrition of their colony in the autumn. “Nosema fungi respond well to improved nutrition, so supplementing the bees’ diet with pollen and nectar resources in the fall will allow them to maintain more nectar as they go into the winter,” he said. Some beekeepers also feed their bees more protein. Others use a chemical treatment for the fungi, but scientists warn it’s only a short-term solution. As for the viruses – there are beekeepers like Daniel Weaver, who only use bee queens from his own colony, selecting them for genetic resistance to Varroa mites and RNA viruses. Continue reading the main story It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question: are the fungi and viruses a problem or are they a symptom? David Mendes American Beekeeping Federation He says that this method has helped him obtain much lower levels of CCD incidence in his colonies – an experience consistent with the results reported in the recent study. “That pattern of our varroa [mites] and virus resistant bees not succumbing to CCD is all the more important when we can say that colonies headed by queens produced by other queen breeders but operated under the same environmental conditions – and right next door to hives headed by our queens – did succumb to CCD,” said Weaver. Until the cure is found, it’s not just the beekeepers who are suffering – agricultural companies and of course consumers who buy their products have been affected as well. Weaver says he just hopes the buzzing honey workers will continue to fight CCD – because without them, the world just wouldn’t be the same. “Without bees, our world would be a very dreary place to live. So many delicious fruits wouldn’t be available and so many wonderful plants wouldn’t be able to propagate and reproduce,” he said. “A very dull and dreary place indeed.”

Annual plague of car-coating insects descends on SWFL

FLORIDA: While we don’t see snow in South Florida, there’s a blizzard of another kind making an impact on windshields everywhere: Love Bugs. Sandy Benjamin stopped at the Florida Turnpike plaza in Port St. Lucie to take a picture. His limousine is coated with love bugs. “It’s ridiculous, unbelievable. I wish it would rain so all this stuff would go away,” said Benjamin.

At the service plaza, the line is backed up to the roadway to get a free windshield cleaning. “It’s just a real hassle. We had to stop at every rest stop and do this,” said Terri Acosta of Miami. Love bugs are an invasive species related to flies that first came to south Florida in the 1970s. Because they don’t sting or bite, there’s no spraying program to get rid of them.

 On Wednesday there were reports of massive swarms of love bugs between the Fort Pierce and Yeehaw Junction exits on the turnpike. So what is it about our cars that attract these love bugs? Ken Gioeli, a master naturalist with the University of Florida, said there’s a little science behind it. “They’re attracted not to the cars but the exhaust that comes out.

When your exhaust hits UV light, the sunlight it acts like a bait for these love bugs,” said Gioeli. Not only do the love bugs make a mess, they can do some lasting damage to your car if you don’t get them off quickly. “It’s fairly acidic and if you let it stay on your car for a long period of time, it would pock mark the paint on your car,” added Gioeli. After using up his entire wiper fluid supply, Pete Cafaro came prepared with his Windex. He makes the drive down from Orlando often.

“I’ve never seen it this bad before… ever.. ever,” said Cafaro as he continued to clean the windshield of his Cadillac SUV. The bugs will only be around for another four or five weeks.

A Day Off!

Customer’s reset their appointment with us on occasions but there are those rare times, when all the planets are in alignment and  appointments are reset by our customers on the same day…in a row. So being that I took off most of the morning to take Mighty Mullet the Wonder Dog to the vet for his checkup., and the  reset their appointments for another day…I had the day off….a definate rarity! 

With no work I did not have any pest control pictures to blog about here, so I took some pics of my day off. 




My favorite son…..and Brandon, lol. 


Mullet gets bored and checks out the resident cat that was trying to sleep.  



 He checks out the Fish 


Mullet loved the attention! 

After the vet it was my turn for a check up…. 

WOODYS RIVER ROO – Ellenton, Fl. 

Just over the Skyway Bridge, located in Ellenton is a cool water front bar. That was the perfect spot to start “my” day. 


Woodys has a great view of the water.




We left Woods and went across the street to the Ellenton Mall. I needed a new pair of sunglasses and that was the place to go. I have worn Maui Jims for many years so why change something that works well for me. I can wear them at work and at play and they take a “helluva” beating. 


Maui Jim Banyans 412-02

Snappers in Distress!

After getting  my goodies, we traveled back towards St. Pete and as usual something weird always happens. There in our lane on the highway were two common snapping turtles. They were hot, tired and scared. I pulled over and put the turtles in a container that I had in the back of my “Jimmy”. 




Once in St. Pete, I stopped by a friend’s house, he has a wonderful pond, actually a small lake on his property, and let these little guys go. 

The El Cap


I visited a very good friend, Micheal Crose, a local radio personality and pest control business owner of We met at the El cap on 4th Street in St. Pete. I personally do not like the El Cap, there are many other places that have better burgers and better prices but it was close at the time. 

Done and back home

The rest of the day was spent renting a few vids, watching them with a friend and relaxing from a busy days events.

Thats it, It was a very slow day of events but enjoyable. I hope it did not bore you too much.   Seeya – Jim

Squirrel’s in the Attic

The squirrel can become a nuisance when it chews through the facia board or roof and gains access into your soffit and attic as this one did.

If you think you have a squirrel in your attic, think again. You have more than one, usually 4 or 5 or more. Squirrels are very social animals and will stay as a family unit. We caught three already!

Once we removed a small portion of the ceiling, we were able to be a better idea of what we were up against. Notice the “gnaw” marks around the pipes. these rascals have been doing some damage! squirrels can create tremendous damage in an attic.

If you try and resolve the squirrel problem yourself, you may end up enclosing a squirrel or squirrels in your attic which will cause major damage as the enclosed squirrel or squirrels will chew a, exit  hole to get out. If one or more of the squirrel family members are outside, they will assist the enclosed squirrel or squirrels in chewing the hole.

Here is a picture of some nesting material that was gathered up by the squirrel.

It is best to leave the squirrel removal and exclusion to a professional in the animal control or wildlife control field. Most of the time the problem can be corrected in a short time with no more damage caused. As a  wildlife professional, we  will also assist in preventative measures which will deter future problems with squirrels.

A squirrel can climb almost anything. If squirrels are determined to get somewhere, they will. There are devices that wildlife professionals use to help solve this problem and deter a squirrel or squirrels from climbing.

Remember, nuisance squirrels should be handled by a wildlife control professional.



I placed a squirrel Havahart Live Trap in the area of the attic cutout that was just previously made. This trap does not hurt the animal! Once captured, we will safely release it


This little fella and his friends will have a nice home away from this attic to lead a fun filled life. No squirrels were hurt during this whole operation, although I almost fell off the ladder, the squirrels were safe and happy!

Drywood Termite New Construction Treatment