Consider your colours carefully if you don’t want the bugs to bite !

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If you are using red or black beddings, you may want to reconsider your choice of colours.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are a parasite of man, feeding and surviving on blood. Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices.

Bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides, which prompted scientists to try and define what would make the perfect harbourage for these blood sucking creatures.

Researchers at the University of Florida and Union College decided to see if bed bugs showed any color preferences.Bed bugs were placed in the middle of petri dishes with different colour shelters made out of card and a 10 minute slot was allocated to each bug to choose a hiding spot. The color choices were shuffled around to cover different dish locations and the experiment was carried out amongst a wide range of bed bugs, with different age, sex and feeding habits. Females who were about to lay eggs were also part of the experiment to see if they had a favourite shade under which to leave their brood. The bugs’ choices were subsequently recorded.

The bugs appeared to show a preference for black and red, whilst they appeared to dislike yellow and green shelters.

You may originally think that these tiny creatures prefer red because it is the colour of blood, their 1st choice meal, but it may also be because bed bugs themselves appear red as adults and the little bugs simply like to go to these harbourages in order to meet up with their bug mates.Alternatively, it could also that red and black being dark colours, they represent a safe hiding place away from well lit areas, where bedbugs don’t like to hang out.

These findings are not conclusive as not enough research has been done. However, it gives us an indication of which colour could be used with a trap system for an effective way of getting rid of the little monsters.


By Myriam Clark

3 Formidable Predatory Insects

Assassin bug

Assassin bugs are among nature’s most ingenious killers, although are harmless to man but do have excruciatingly painful bites. There are many species of assassin bug, they often specialise in a certain kind of prey; for example, some of them feed only on spiders, others prefer ants, etc. They kill their prey by shooting their needle-like mouth parts inassbugCPBclose2to the body of their prey and inject in their lethal saliva, which liquefies the victim’s innards. They are pretty formidable in their attack; however, most assassin bugs are not fast runners or flyers so they have come up ingenious ways of trickery in their hunting tactics. Some cover them cover their bodies in bark, dust or even dead insects to disguise their appearance and scent, and sneak up on unsuspecting prey. Spider-hunting assassin bugs mimic vibrations produced by insects tapped in their web, fooling the spider into thinking they have caught an insect, to only be killed and eaten themselves. Possibly the most remarkable assassin bug is the species which feeds on ants. It secretes a sugary substance through its abdomen, which acts as bait for the ants, but it is loaded with a powerful tranquilizer. Within seconds after ingestion, the ant collapses, paralyzed, and the assassin bug can suck its innards without any resistance.


Japanese hornets

Japanese Hornets, known as ‘Tiger Hornets’ in some parts of Asia, are large wasps and relentless hunters that kill any insects they can capture. In their armoury, they have an incredibly potent venom and have the ability to inject great amounts of it and repeatedly inject this venom. Their venom is so potent it will cause serious illness to humans and can even cause death, they are classed as the most dangerous animal in Japan – killing around 40 people per year (more than bears and snakes combined). The Japanese Hornet uses its sting only as a defence mechanism; to kill prey, it uses its sharp jaws to decapitate the victim, and cut its body in small pieces. It then carries the carcass back to the nest to feed to the larvae. Follow the feeding, the larvae produce a sweet sugary liquid which is the adult hornet’s primary food source. Japanese Hornets, in groups up to 10, have been known to completely devastate a honey bee colony in a couple of hours, decapitating every single bee in the nest (up to 30,000) one by one. Once the bees have all been killed, the hornets feed on the honey and carry the bee’s larvae back to their own nest to heed the larvae. The Japanese Hornet, a truly formidable predator.



The Dragonfly is the ultimate aerial killer of the insect world; its design is so perfect, that it has remdragonfly-lead.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartained almost unchanged for the last 300 million years. It is one of the fastest flying insects to have ever graced the skies and can reach speeds up to 56 mph which, if you consider the size and fragility of a dragonfly, it is rather astonishing. It can dive-bomb, hover like a helicopter, and even fly backwards, and its enormous eyes, which cover almost all of its head, give it near-360-degree vision, so that no insect escapes its attention. Dragonflies will feed on any insects they can catch, also spiders which they capture straight from their webs. Although they usually hunt and devour prey at high speed in the air, they can also snatch spiders and insects from exposed surfaces. Not only are the Dragonflies formidable predators, their larvae are also daunting predators; they use their protractile, sharp mouth parts to stab other small animals to death, including small fish, frogs and other dragonfly larvae.

By Lee Silson

3 Insects that belong in the alien world

Devil’s Flower Mantis Idolomantis Diabolica5587004-lg

One of the strangest and largest praying mantis of all, which is saying a lot when talking about praying mantids. The female can measure up to 13 cm in length and develop a range of natural colours, that allows them to mimic the Devil’s flower, a type of orchid. Mantids are predators and their hunting style involves sitting motionless and waiting for their pray to come within reach. They then whip their arms out and snag their pray – usually flies, beetles and in some cases birds. They use their colours to mimic flowers to lure their pray to within reach.



I can honestly say this is one of the oddest-looking creatures I have ever laid eyes upon. The ‘stinger’ at the back of the insect is not a stinger at all and is something much more innocuous: the fly’s genitals. Scorpionflies can be found all over the world and have been around scorpionflyMesozoic age and they are believed to have been the forerunners of most of our modern moths and butterflies, collectively grouped in the Lepidoptera order.


Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a beautiful fluorescent blue butterfly which is commonly found in North and Central America. However, its larvae are an Screen-Shot-2013-03-10-at-5.37.21-PMarmoured congealed-blood-red caterpillar which have tinted visor shades for eyes and a quadruple row of blunt horns running across its body. These caterpillars live in groups when young and as they grow older they wander off on their own before entering the chrysalis stage. Certainly, a strange looking larva.



Written by Lee J Silson

Cluster Flies, what Cluster Flies?

Households and properties that suffer from these seasonal pests may have noticed that their activity is becoming less and less. Before it may have been a never-ending event treating and then cleaning up the dead pests, whereas now they seem to have “flown the nest”.


So, where are they?


Cluster flies actually lay their eggs in soil, more often than not in fields- so if you are rural or semi-rural this will explain why you experience them more than most. Recent frosts up and down the country will have killed off eggs that have been waiting to hatch whilst also driving the flies to warmer places.


These warmer places can be deep in the barks of trees for example. Unfortunately, due to advances in central heating, our properties are also a most welcome place for the flies. It’s in the attic and loft spaces of the home that the cluster flies are most likely to reside.


During this winter period, they enter a state of “diapause” which is similar to hibernation. Diapause can also be likened to a deep freeze; this state slows down their functions, namely their development and appetite. Once the warmer weather hits, they will leave the area and begin to lay eggs in the soil again…. And so the cycle continues.


What can you do?


If you have or suspect that there are flies in your property then using a fumigation device, such as a Smoke Bomb or a Fogger will be a real progressive step. This will kill the hibernating flies and give you a clean slate to work on for next year. It’s then recommended to apply a residual insecticide, such as Formula ‘C’, to all the areas where the flies congregate.


It’s also very effective to pre-empt the next wave of Cluster Flies. The most productive way of doing this is to again, apply the Formula ‘C’ spray to the usual affected areas before the seasons start- Spring and Autumn. This should reduce the need to use fumigation devices.



In short, this should ensure much easier management of Cluster Flies so you spend less time killing and sweeping up flies, meaning more time for hobbies, friends and family.–flies-in-loft-kit-containing-smoke-bombs-118-p.asp–flies-in-loft-kit-containing-foggers-169-p.asp



Written by Andrew Steel







Rodent Mine Detectors saving lives

Rodent Mine Detectors saving lives

Specially trained rats that are raised to sniff out land mines are making huge progress in parts of South East Asia and Africa.

The African Giant Pouched Rats, which can grow up to one metre in length, are trained almost from birth to detect explosives under the ground. Their excellent sense of smell means that an area they can cover in twenty minutes, would take a person with a metal detector 4 days to complete.

There are thousands of incidents every year where people and animals are seriously injured or killed due to accidentally detonating undiscovered landmines. Originally trained to find UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) in Mozambique, they are now carrying out this vital role in Angola, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

APOPO, the organisation that trains the rats, inform that over 130,000 landmines, UXO’s and weapons have been found and deactivated.140924173752-apopo-land-mine-rat-entertain-feature

The great work carried out by these rats not only saves lives, but clears land that can be used by farmers to grow crops and vegetation. April 4th is marked as International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action by the United Nations. This aims to raise awareness of the issues faced and to celebrate the success already made.


Written by Andrew Steele