An Old Pest is New to Illinois…the Kissing Bug!
This tropical pest has migrated to our area. While the Kissing Bug name sounds sweet, it carries a parasite that can transmit a disease called CHAGAS, which can cause serious illness and long-lasting complications. Before you get too alarmed, know that experts claim the chances of becoming infected are small, but we all need to be aware.
Kissing bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale and have been known to bite on the face, hence the cutesy name. Pets can be infected as well.
So, what to do? Seal cracks and remove dead leaves, wood piles and other shrubs close to your house. Turn off lights when not in use. Be alert to the appearance of this pest…about an inch or so in length, black or brown with orange markings, and long skinny legs. If you see one, don’t pick it up. If you can, try to trap it and call the health department. Not all kissing bugs carry the parasite that causes Chagas, but you won’t know by its appearance.
The first link below gives more tips for how to minimize risk; the other links also provide useful information.
For more information:
Help Save the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (bombus affinis)!
Its numbers have dropped 87% in the last two decades.
Rommy Lopat, a Member of the Civic Beautification Committee of Lake Forest, wrote the following about helping the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee:
Pleases consider challenging your club to count how many of these plants they have in their yards for feeding the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. Also, challenge members to take photos of Bumble Bees on their plants and we will figure out how many types of Bumbles we have and if any (probably not, but…) are the Rusty Patched variety.
Here’s the plant list: I have 18 of the 36 plants in my LF garden: https://www.fws.gov/ midwest/endangered/insects/ rpbb/plants.html [This plant list works for Monarch Butterflies as well because it includes Milkweeds.]
Background Info from the US Fish & Wildlife Service
Just 20 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was a common sight, so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it moved from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. But it’s now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction and has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States to be listed as endangered. It was once found across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota and north into two provinces in Canada. Today, we find it only in a few locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin – and Ontario, Canada. Abundance and distribution of rusty patched bumble bee populations have declined by an estimated 91 percent since the mid to late 1990s.
Threats to the rusty patched bumble bee include disease (for example, from infected commercial honeybee colonies), exposure to pesticides, habitat loss, the effects of climate change, the effects of extremely small populations, and a combination of these factors.
Bumble bees such as the rusty patched are important pollinators of plants and wildflowers that provide food and habitat for other wildlife. They are also the chief pollinator of many economically important crops. Bumble bees are able to fly in cooler temperatures and lower light levels than many other bees, such as honey bees, making them excellent pollinators for crops like tomatoes, peppers and cranberries. Even where crops can be self-pollinated, the plant produces more and bigger fruits when pollinated by bumble bees.
- Don’t feed deer — ever.
- Always wear insect repellant, as well as clothing treated with repellant. (See other alert in this section of the website to learn what repellants offer the best protection.)
- When working in the garden or on walks outdoors, wear light colored clothing, so that ticks can be seen easily.
- Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Comb your hair thoroughly and check the rest of your body when you come back inside.
- Treat your pets with Frontline or other tick and mosquito control substances. Ask your vet about the best products for your pets.
- If your property is frequented by voles, mice, deer, or other animals that carry ticks (and that is most yards!), use repellents and/or have your property treated with insecticides to kill grubs and other food sources that may be attracting them.
- Seek medical assistance if you develop a bull’s eye rash, flu-like symptoms, or any other unusual symptoms, especially after you have been bitten. And, if you have spent a lot of times outdoors and have not been feeling well, ask your physician about being tested for a tick-born disease. Some of these diseases can be treated with antibiotics, and if left untreated, people can develop a variety of health problems, including facial paralysis, heart palpitations, arthritis, severe headaches, and neurological disorders.
Here are links to other articles should you wish to read more about this growing threat:
While we all go a little batty at times, especially in the fall when we rush to finish end-of-the-season gardening tasks and social obligations intensify, did you know that bats are far more active in autumn as well? With this increase in bat activity, you are more likely to encounter bats in or around your home. Lake County tests bats annually and have found roughly 4% are rabid. So, while it is recognized that bats can do much good for the environment with some species being pollinators and many bat species consuming pesky insects, we do not want any personal, close contact. The following links will give you information on what you can do to protect yourself and family and who you can call should a bat get inside your home or garage.
U of Il Extension Service:
Keep Pollinators Safe!
Photo Credit: Marge McClintock
We are warned daily about protecting ourselves against the Zika and West Nile viruses, both carried by mosquitoes. Wear protective clothing, use bug repellant, treat standing water, spray for mosquitoes.
Less often we hear about another disease affecting bees called Colony Collapse Disorder, which resulted in the loss of 44% of honeybee colonies last year in the US. Bees are vital to our agricultural economy: their pollination contributed over $14 billion to the value of our crops in 2015, are necessary for many crops such as blueberries, cherries, and almonds — and of course, the more than 175 million pounds of honey harvested annually in the US.
But thiamethoxam and clothianidin — two insecticides banned in some European countries but sold in the US — have been found to reduce sperm in male bees. Look for insecticides that don’t include these chemicals. Don’t spray insecticides on flowers when they are in bloom. And if there is a breeze — protect birds, bees, and yourself by not spraying insecticides until it is calm. Bee safe!
To read more about Colony Collapse Disorder, click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder
Speaking of Mosquitoes…
What should we use to protect ourselves from these annoying and dangerous insects? If you are concerned about DEET, which is considered to offer the most protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says we can rest easy. It is safe! For more information, including using DEET on children, click here: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/deet
What about all of those products or methods that claim to offer protection in “natural” or safe ways? Many don’t work. This article lists seven products or methods that are not very effective. Check it out: http://www.health.com/home/ineffective-zika-products?xid=healthyliving08102016