Ants have long been a significant urban pest, but they only recently have emerged as structural pests that cause vast structural and other damage. Carpenter ants, in particular, have been recognized as important North American structural pests, in some areas causing damage that’s considered equal to or more serious than that caused by termites.
Carpenter ants build their nest in wood structures or other wood products, seeking out moist wood that contains decay fungi, but also settling for dry, healthy wood. One of the many things that make them a feared enemy is that their nests can be found almost ANYWHERE inside a building structure, including:
Pesticide exposure is typically a concern for farm workers who apply them, but sometimes unsuspecting people are put through life-threatening experiences by coming into contact with the toxic chemicals.
A couple of months ago, an entire Delaware family became violently ill while vacationing in the U.S. Virgil Islands. Steve Esmond, his wife, and their two sons – one 16 years old and one just over 14 years of age – were enjoying their stay at a luxurious villa located in St. John, when Esmond was found unconscious in their hotel room. Two weeks later, his wife and sons started having seizures as well, and the family was airlifted to hospitals in the United States, where the boys and their father remained in critical condition.
An investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the family was poisoned by the highly toxic pesticide methyl bromide, which was used by employees of the pest control company Terminix to fumigate the condo below theirs in order to “deal with an indoor bug.” Methyl bromide, an odorless fumigant and pesticide, can be fatal or cause severe problems in humans, ranging from lung injury and respiratory damage to neurological problems.
In recent years, food and beverage processing industries have become subject to intense scrutiny of regulatory agencies, government institutions, and third-party auditors. As a result, managers of food processing plants have started to pay more attention to the many hazards posed by physical, chemical, and microbial contaminants.
Flies, cockroaches, rodents, and ants are known carriers of disease and pathogens, and many food and beverage processing plants have various procedures in place to identify, treat, and prevent infestations. However, not many of them think of birds as a pest, despite the fact that they carry dozens of bacteria, parasites, and disease-causing pathogens that are just as dangerous to food safety and human health.
The three most notorious pest birds – sparrows, pigeons, and starlings – are common in and around industrial and commercial facilities such as food processing plants, restaurants, and grocery stores, because many of them offer food, water, and safe harbor.
Compared to other regions in North America, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has always had a relatively small tick population, with no permanent colonies living within its boundaries. The first sightings of ticks carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease took place in Cape Broyle in June 2001, and reports of people contracting the virus have been sporadic ever since.
But the situation has recently started to change, according to the province’s chief veterinary officer Hugh Whitney, who says they are finding more and more of the parasites every year, and a significant percent of them are Lyme disease carriers. “Fifteen years ago, we’d only talk about southern Ontario for Lyme disease in Canada,” Whitney declared for CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show. “It’s considered to be a disease that is moving further north.” Having already settled in regions such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, black-legged ticks are currently marching towards Prince Edward Island, which is expecting increased numbers this year.
The beginning of June marks the unofficial start of the mosquito season in Canada, with large groups of tiny vampires preparing to invade picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor activities. Heavy rainfall, coupled with rising temperatures, will cause mosquito populations to explode in the following weeks, entomologists expecting to see multiple distinct peaks between June and September.
Although, in Canada, we often joke that the mosquito is our national bird, mosquitoes are not a laughing matter in most parts of the world. Despite their size and fragility, they cause more human deaths – about 725,000 every year – than some of the biggest predators on the planet, such as sharks, wolves, lions, elephants, and crocodiles, combined. By comparison, sharks only kill ten people a year, crocodiles 1,000, and snakes 50,000.
The reason mosquitoes cause most human suffering on the planet is because they are effective carriers of pathogens that may cause devastating diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, various forms of encephalitis, and the notorious West Nile virus.