Conflicting Reports on Stink Bugs’ Mortality Rate Due to Our Cold Winter

July 11, 2014

stinkbug_frederick_md2In February of this year (2014), Virginia Tech researchers did studies to test stink bugs’ resilience in extreme cold temperatures. According to their research they concluded, “…about 95 percent of them were exterminated (when temperatures hovered around zero degrees for several days)”, due to the renowned “polar vortex” much of the Northeast experienced extreme cold for a longer than average duration. The research, unfortunately, was only limited to Blacksburg, Virginia where temperatures were closer to the zero degree mark, unlike Maryland.

stinkbug_frederick_md1According to another article by the Washington Post, Mike Raupp disputed the mortality rate of stink bugs. He remained more guarded in his prediction of the stink bug population in Maryland. While Blacksburg had a few days at 4 degrees below zero, Maryland did not. A research entomologist for the Agriculture Department also believes that stink bugs were not as greatly affected by the colder than average winter. Entomologist Tracey Leskey stated, “Unfortunately, they’re (stink bugs) doing just fine”. According to Leskey, “Even if they did die in bunches, they enter winter with an enormous population, so plenty of survivors rush out in spring to multiply”. Compounding the lower than expected mortality rates of stink bugs in the elements is the fact that many stink bugs make their way into homes during the cold months. Mike Raupp stated, “Every day I’ve had a stink bug wandering across my desk; they’re doing fine in my house”.

stinkbug_frederick_md3Just last week we had a customer reporting a large number of stink bugs on his house.  He noticed hey were smaller than usual, but stinkbugs nonetheless. This created the potential for an explosion of the stink bug population on this customer’s property, as there were now 2 generations of stink bugs (adult stink bugs and nymph stink bugs). A nymph (stink bug) looks extremely different than an adult stink bug; in most cases it looks so dissimilar that people think they are seeing an immature tick or other small insects. According to a research article, the brown marmorated stink bug, or BMSB, has a life cycle which consists of the following:

Eggs: The white or pale green barrel-shaped eggs are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Egg masses have about 25 eggs that are only about 1 mm in diameter but become apparent when nymphs have recently emerged, as they will stay at the egg mass for several days. In Pennsylvania, eggs first appeared in late June, but females continued to lay egg masses until September. Although only one generation was observed, multiple generations are likely as the distribution spreads to the south (Bernon et al. 2004).

Nymphs: As with all immature stink bugs, the nymphs lack fully developed wings and have been described as tick-like in appearance, ranging in size from 2.4 mm (1st instar) to 12 mm (5th instar). Nymphs need to molt, or shed their outer skin (exoskeleton), as they progress through five different stages or nymphal instars. First instars are colored orange or red and remain clustered around the egg mass, sometimes until they molt to the 2nd instar stage. The 2nd instar begins to develop an almost black appearance, and subsequent instars (3rd, 4th, and 5th) begin to acquire more of the adult BMSB coloration.

Adults: Adults are 12 to17 mm long (approximately 1/2 inch), and have a mottled appearance. Alternating dark and light bands occur on the last two antennal segments. Additionally, the head and pronotum are covered with patches of coppery or bluish metallic-colored punctures and the margins of the pronotum are smooth as compared to the toothed, jagged pronotal margin of Brochymena (Hoebeke 2002). The exposed lateral margins of the abdomen are marked with alternate bands of brown and white. Faint white bands are also evident on the legs.

Don’t let stink bugs take over your house, refer to our previous blog about the best way to remove them from your home. As always, if you have any questions regarding stink bugs and how to best protect your home, call us at (301) 263-7220.


Tufts University Scientists Warn of a “Tick Boom” This Summer

July 3, 2014

nymph tick in frederick marylandWSET news published on June 23, 2014 an article discussing a stern warning from Tufts University scientists about the potential for a “tick boom” this summer. The jump in the tick population is attributed to abundant snow and a wet spring, which created ideal conditions for this tick boom. According to Tuft’s Professor Sam Telford, “the large amounts of snow this winter acts like a blanket to protect ticks. Plus the wet spring kept ticks from drying out.” The most concerning aspect of the impending tick boom is that it especially applies to the type of ticks that carry Lyme Disease.

frederick maryland tick controlAccording to another article, “June and July are the peak season for the tiny, hard to see nymph ticks which are believed to be the main vector for transmitting Lyme Disease”. The larger issue with the nymph tick is the size of the bug itself. The nymph tick can be especially hard to locate and it is possible to have a nymph tick on your body the size of a comma and, therefore, overlooked as being a freckle, or speck of dirt. Because of this, it is very important to check your body daily. With the expected explosion in the tick population imminent, protecting yourself from ticks should be the primary concern.

There’s nothing like a tick boom to inevitably lead to an uptick in Lyme disease. Adding to the difficulty on reporting the statistical analysis of Lyme Disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that “only 10% of the people infected with Lyme disease are accurately diagnosed”. In Maryland in 2013 there were 1,194 cases of Lyme Disease reported, however, the CDC estimates actual cases in Maryland were approximately 11,000. The need for tick control is higher now more than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control homeowners should “Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home” to protect from ticks in your yard. If you have any questions or concerns related to tick control and how to protect you and your family from ticks, give Mosquito Squad of Frederick a call at (301) 263-7220 or email us at

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is in Full Swing

June 26, 2014


mosquito_control_awareness_week1The week of June 22-June 28, 2014 has been declared the eighteenth annual “National Mosquito Control Awareness Week” by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). The purpose of “Mosquito Week” is to educate the general public about the significance of mosquitoes in their daily lives and the important service provided by mosquito control workers throughout the U.S.  The intention is not only to educate the general public about mosquitoes, but also the diseases which they are capable of transmitting.

asian_tiger_mosquito_frederick_mdThe activity of mosquitoes in our area is extremely high and due to the arrival of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, the biting activity is all day long (contrary to common belief that mosquitoes feed only during the cooler evening hours).  The Asian tiger mosquito not only bites during the hot summer days, unlike native species, but is much more aggressive than its native counterparts. Click the link here to see a daily update of the current mosquito activity levels according to the Weather Channel.

Common-backyard-mosquito-sourcesThis year was predicted to be especially bad for mosquito activity, much worse than any on previous record. According to an article from last year, “We could have the biggest mosquito population since 1989, which was a really bad year for mosquitoes.” Additionally, there are several more mosquito-borne diseases currently than there were in 1989. We now are contending with West Nile Virus and potentially Chikungunya due to the Asian tiger mosquito’s presence. The article stated, “The Asian Tiger is more aggressive and effective in transmitting disease than native mosquitoes, which they are ‘out-competing’ in many places.”

The more educated the general public is about the dangers of mosquitoes and the methods of ridding yourself of said dangers is of the utmost importance. Following the 5 “T’s” is always effective and highly important to help aid you in ridding your yard of unwanted mosquito breeding areas.  Mosquitoes have the potential of ruining any event, whether it is a graduation party, wedding, cookout, etc. It is better to be well-informed and prepared than having guests literally itching to leave your outdoor event. For more information on how to take your yard back and gain awareness call Mosquito Squad of Frederick at (301) 263-7220 or email us today.

How Mosquito Control in Frederick MD Can Spare You and Your Family from the Chikungunya Virus

June 17, 2014

asian tiger mosquito control in frederick marylandThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring several states for the Chikungunya virus, including Maryland. Due to an above average rainfall (25% higher than average), the potential for the spread of the virus has dramatically increased. Accompanying this statistic is the fact that people travel more, and in turn are exposed to foreign vector-borne illnesses which they then bring back with them. It’s a perfect storm once someone infected with Chikungunya arrives back stateside; they are the carrier, and the Asian tiger mosquito is the transmitter. Neither Chikungunya nor the Asian mosquito are native, however, due to the rapid increases in industrial globalization and travel, they are now both present in the U.S.

mosquito control in frederick marylandMosquito control in Frederick MD is a serious issue, and Mosquito Squad is the first commercial service to tackle this issue for people who were previously unable to get help. According to the (CDC), “Two species of mosquitoes, aedes albopictus and aedes aegypti, carry the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the albopictus, commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is more likely to play a larger role in transmission in the United States due to its wide distribution.” Unfortunately, we have the invasive bloodsucker known as the Asian tiger mosquito in Maryland and Mosquito Squad is fighting back. The sheer relief people experience after seeing the results of our barrier spray is astounding. People are actually able to enjoy their backyards without being constantly hounded by mosquitoes. Simply being able to walk into their own backyard without applying bug spray, or having to set up a perimeter of citronella candles is literally life-altering for our customers.

mosquito control frederick mdThere are several methods you can use to prevent mosquito breeding in your yard, one of the most simple and helpful methods is to follow the 5 “T’s”.

1. TIP
Tip anything around your home that can collect water from rain or your sprinkler system. Dog bowls, plant saucers, clogged gutters and kid’s toys left out in the yard can collect enough water to be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Remove excess grass, weeds from gardens, leaves, firewood and other leftover clippings from yards.

Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like baby pools, children’s portable sandboxes or plastic toys.

If tarps stretched over firewood piles, grills or boats aren’t taut, they’re holding water.

Call Mosquito Squad of Frederick. Our mosquito elimination barrier treatment eliminates up to 90% of the mosquitoes on your property. Remember that mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance; they can carry dangerous diseases such as West Nile virus and the Chikungunya virus.

The most important of all these is to Treat your yard. It’s been helping hundreds of people and will continue to do so. If you would like to take your yard back, give us a call today at (301) 263-7220 or email us at

Loudon County, VA Declares Lyme Disease An Epidemic, Encourages Home Owners To Spray Their Yards

April 24, 2012

Loudon County, VA, neighboring Frederick County, MD has declared Lyme disease to be epidemic and launched a 10 point plan to reduce the cases of Lyme Disease in the county.  According to an April 9, 2012 report on Fox 5 DC, “There’s also going to be a significant awareness campaign and we want to encourage private homeowners to spray their own property to go after the ticks,’ Supervisor Ken Reid says.”

The news story describes how the tick-borne disease has impacted its victims.

“”’I taught kindergarten, but when it effected my voice, I couldn’t teach anymore,’ Benalayat says.

Speaking is difficult for her now, and everyday life focuses on treating her Lyme Disease.

‘I give myself I-V medicine and that takes an hour. I also take 30 pills every day as well’” Benalayat says.

Linda McGee was diagnosed with Lyme 8 years ago, and two of her three children have it too. Her family has paid more than $12,000 out of their pockets to treat her.

‘Insurance doesn’t cover much, and the I-V treatment was a thousand dollars a week back then,’ McGee says.

So they had to make a choice, college tuition or her intravenous antibiotic treatment. They sent their daughter off to college, and then in February, she relapsed.

‘I had some problems, and the Lyme went to my heart,’ McGee says.”

Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle and require a blood meal in order to molt from one stage to another.  Typically, the nymph ticks look for a blood meal in the spring.  Deer ticks typically look for their first blood meal from small animals, including white-footed mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and even foraging birds, and later blood meals from large mammals (like humans and deer).  Experts have predicted that the risk of contracting Lyme disease is extremely high this year.  Several factors play into this.  First, the ticks, and other insects, were able to survive the mild winter better than they would in a harshly cold winter.  Second, oak trees are producing fewer acorns this year.  Researchers indicate that white-footed mice feed on acorns and their population goes up and down depending on the acorn production.  Less mice means the ticks must look for another source for their blood meal.

Researchers at Yale University found that throughout the entire northeast from Connecticut to Maryland 1 in 5 ticks carried the bacteria that spread Lyme disease.  Other studies have found that same ratio.

What can you do to protect yourself?  Mosquito Squad has prepared the 6 Cs to help:

1. Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.

2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.

3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.

4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.

5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.

6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill “adult” ticks on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

University of Maryland Entomologists Worry Stink Bugs and Mosquitoes Will be Bad in 2012

April 6, 2012

WTOP news published on 4/5/12 an  article discussing concerns the University of Maryland entomologists have about the 2012 stink bug population.  If you hate stink bugs and like to watch them die, the article is worth looking at just to see the photo of a praying mantis “feasting” on a stink bug.  Not surprisingly, the story suggests that this year could be really bad for stink bugs, mosquitoes, ticks.  First, the article points out that the mild winter did not kill off as many of the bugs as a harsh winter would have.  University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp tells WTOP that bugs that have multiple generations could be extremely bad this year.  Included in this group:   brown marmorated stink bugs, Asian tiger mosquitoes, spider mites, etc.

The article states:  “Although Raupp said it’s not definite that pesky insects like mosquitoes and Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs — which are native to Asia and invaded the area several years ago — will be more prevalent this summer, some signs are already favoring the critters.”  Additionally “[University of Maryland pest management specialist Galen] Dively said the advantage could be particularly strong for stink bugs.”   The only thing the article suggests could suppress the bugs:  weather.  “Dively said a wet spring or extremely hot summer could end up suppressing populations that would have otherwise thrived.

‘The weather in the spring or summer can actually change the whole scenario real quick, that’s why it’s hard to predict anything,’ Dively said.  That is an interesting quote because WTOP has posted the audio of an interview with Raupp where he worries that 2012 is starting to shape up like 2010, which he called a “watershed” year for stink bugs.  In Western Maryland the summer of 2010 seemed extremely hot to us, with several consecutive days of 100 degrees and the region being declared to be in drought.  Even with that extreme temperatures many compared the 2010 stink bug problem to a biblical plague.  So far (April 5, 2012), we at Mosquito Squad are hearing many people report mosquitoes already in their yards, reports of deer ticks, and many other insects getting started weeks before they normally do.  It appears to us that rain was more of a suppressor for the stink bugs than hot  temperatures.  As discussed earlier, a warm drought led to massive stink bug invasions.  Meanwhile, last year was extremely wet.  While we had and have several customers with huge stink bug problems last year (and this spring), we note that the rain seemed to suppress some stink bug migration to homes in some areas.  If Raupp is correct that this year is shaping up like 2010, we should prepare for it.  Our customers have reported great satisfaction with the control we have achieved for them.  One researcher from the University of Maryland told us it is advisable to treat for stink bugs early. We could not agree more.

Meanwhile, other articles have suggested that the tick population may be  aggressively biting humans this year.  One such article says that acorns are in a down part of their cycle.  What does that have to do with ticks? Field mice eat acorns and without that food source, their populations could diminish.  Deer ticks often get their first blood meal from mice. With less mice, the deer ticks will need to search out other sources, including humans, for their blood meals.

In that case the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may be sound advice.

Experts Predict Surge in Lyme Disease in Northeast

March 21, 2012

News articles published on March 20, 2012 warn that the mild winter will lead to a spike in Lyme Disease in the northeast.   In a previous post, we pointed out that the tick population is expected to be extremely high in 2012 because the winter has been so warm.  In fact, in March 2012 we have heard several people talking about several ticks in their yards.  I even had a tick on me while standing on a customer’s deck while I treated for stink bugs.  Thanks to the customer for pulling it off my back.  However, this article tells us that the they expect the mouse population to decrease this spring, causing the nymph ticks that normally feed on mice to seek other sources for their blood meal.  Interesting to note that the have noticed a correlation between the number of acorns and the white-footed mouse population.  White-footed mice typically feed on acorns.  The researches noticed a decrease in the acorns, a part of a normal bust and boom cycle, and predict the mouse population will decrease due to the lack of food for that species.

The story reports:  ”

Mice are the preferred host for black-legged ticks, which transmit Lyme  disease. Black-legged ticks need a bloodmeal at three different stages — as  larvae, as nymphs and as adults. As of the spring, the larval ticks that fed on  2011’s large mouse population will be looking for their nymphal meal.

“This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected  black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of  finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals — like us,”  Ostfeld added.”

This creates an interesting dynamic.  Mice have one of their main food sources decrease, which will cause their population to decrease.  Meanwhile, the mild winter is creating a large population of nymph ticks, which will need to find other mammals to feed on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control homeowners should “Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home” to protect from ticks in your yard.

Role Birds Play in Transmitting Lyme Disease

February 27, 2012

In a previous post, we mentioned that Maryland is one of the states where residents are at a high risk of getting Lyme Disease.  A 2009 study done at Yale University and reported by concludes that birds help to spread the Lyme Disease bacteria.  How does this happen?  Ticks infected with Lyme Disease–Yale concludes that at least 20% of all deer ticks carry the Lyme Disease bacteria–feed on birds that walk on the ground. As the birds scavage for food, ticks crawl on and bite them.  The birds then migrate to other areas of the country where the tick falls off ready to spread the disease to other mammals. reports:  “The researchers found that I. scapularis (black-legged ticks) most consistently parasitizes bird species such as thrushes, brown thrashers, wrens and wood warblers….

Lyme disease can cause severe health problems, including arthritis, nervous system abnormalities and irregular heart rhythm. It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with the number of reported human infections doubling between 1992 and 2006.”

The Yale 2009 findings corroborate findings made in 1989 by other researchers in a published article entitled Lyme Disease and Migrating Birds  in the Saint Croix River Valley, Weisbrod and Johnson, Appl. Environ. Microbiology, 1989, 55(8) 1921-1924. In that study the authors contend that 22.4% of the deer ticks they encountered were infected with Borrelia Burgdorferia, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.  They conclude their article by saying “Our data corroborate previous observations that migratory birds are important agents in the dispersal of tick-borne diseases (13, 14, 24) and support the suggestion (2, 7) that the widespread distribution of B. burgdo.feri is a function of dispersal by tick-infested birds.” points out that deer play a role in keeping the tick population alive, but not in spreading the disease.  Most people do not know that White-tailed deer have blood that is immune to the Lyme Disease bacteria.  That means deer do not spread the  disease, but they do provide a blood meal for deer ticks and help their population grow.

In short, we need to be aware that Lyme Disease can be easily found anywhere where birds, deer, or other wildlife can be found.

Professor of Entomology Says Warm Winter Likely Will Result in More Ticks and Mosquitoes

February 15, 2012

An article  on indicates that the warm winter we are experiencing in 2011-2012 will cause an “explosion of ticks and mosquitoes.”  The article quotes Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, a professor of entomology and a specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. She says that if the  winter remains mild “This year, lots and lots of hungry ticks will emerge even on warm winter days. I anticipate the mosquito problems we normally see to be much more intense and begin earlier than usual if the weather continues to be mild. Even the fleas have had a boost so far this winter and many people are complaining about flea problems right now, in the middle of winter.”  Professor Gnagloff-Kaufmann is not the only authority to say that a mild winter will mean more ticks and mosquitoes.  In 2006, the Associated Press reported that experts in New Hampshire said “The wet fall followed by a mild winter tends to mean more mosquitoes, he said. A rainy spring would make things worse.”   Most people remember that the fall of 2011 was very wet in Frederick, MD and this has been a mild winter.  Be prepared for lots of ticks and mosquitoes in the region.  Our pest control solution has proven to be effective in controlling those and other insects.

Warm Winter Likely Will Mean More Mosquitoes This Spring

February 15, 2012

We have been experiencing a warm winter this year (2012).  In fact, we received a phone call from somebody asking about mosquito control on February 8, 2012.  The caller reported being bit by a mosquito in early February.  A recent news article out of Georgia predicts that a warm winter could cause mosquitoes to come out earlier than they normally do.

According to the article “As long as the temperatures are below 40 degrees most insects won’t grow and spawn, according to Paul Guillebeau, professor of entomology at the University of Georgia.

But with high temperatures expected to be in the 40s this weekend, entomologists say we’ll likely see insects emerging soon.”

Professor Guillebeau also says that each generation of a species of insects cause the population to grow tenfold.   In addition to the threat to humans, the article talks about the threat to dogs.  Another entomologist at the University of Georgia,  Nancy Hinkle, says “Mosquito bites are the only way they (pets) can get heartworm. There is never a day of the year where you don’t have to worry about your dog getting heartworms.”

One piece of advice from the professors is to reduce the standing water in your yard.  “A female mosquito lays eggs about every five days, so by cleaning things like bird baths once a week the eggs won’t have a chance to mature. ‘A lot of the nasty species develop in containers, just anything with standing water, trash, tires, etc., so it’s important to be dumping those kind of things out all year long,’ [Evan] Lampert (Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Gainesville State College) said.   We have found that it is impossible to drain all the standing water that mosquitoes breed in.  This is due to the fact that Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, a very prevalent species here in Frederick, lay their eggs in dry areas that they know will flood when it rains.  For that reason, our customers have found that our regular mosquito treatments will help them take back their yard and enjoy the outdoors again.