Rabies and treatment: a personal story

The following story was shared by Mike Merchant, in his blog, Insects in the City. Although the ten pieces of advice near the end are geared for pest management professionals, some of them may be useful to anyone in the general public or who is a profession that requires handling mammals.

Last August I was out for an early morning run when a stray dog rushed me from an alleyway and knocked me down.  In light of other dog attacks in Dallas last summer, at least one of which was fatal, I feared the worst as the dog clamped onto my ankle.  But as soon as I recovered my wits enough to defend myself, the dog was off.  The whole incident probably took no more than five seconds. Continue reading

Could a Zika epidemic start in your state? Absolutely

Michael Merchant, Extension Entomologist for Texas A&M AgriLife, shares the story of a Texas pest management professional who contracted Zika while on a mission trip in Dominica.

More than 1600 cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S. so far, but until last week all of these had been in travelers–people who caught the virus somewhere else and brought it here.  As of last week, however, the picture is changing.  Last week four cases among people who had not traveled outside of their town were reported from north Miami in south Florida.  In an alarming development for Miamians this morning, 10 new locally acquired cases were reported today, likely signaling the first home grown epidemic of Zika infection in the U.S. All cases so far have been restricted to the north Miami neighborhood of Wynwood.

Could this happen in Texas, or other states?  Absolutely. Continue reading

Fill holes in trees so mosquitoes can’t breed

In Insects in the City

It seems you never know what interesting places and topics pest control will lead you. This week’s rabbit trail for me was a discussion on how best to “fill tree holes” that are a common mosquito breeding site.

With the heightened interest in mosquito control and Zika virus this summer, tree holes are a significant problem. When a limb dies back or fails on a tree, the result is often a pocket in the tree that is capable of holding water. It turns out that such water-filled tree holes are perfect breeding sites for some mosquitoes, including Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, the two potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Continue reading

Head lice are beginning to show resistance

From Insects in the City blog

By Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Sending your children off to the first day of school comes with plenty of concerns.  Will they enjoy their new teachers?  Will they make good friends?  But one concern often overlooked in the rush of the new school year is head lice.

Now the last thing anyone should stress over when it comes to schools is head lice.  But with a new school year, reports of head lice always go up.  And according to a new paper delivered at the American Chemical Society and reported this week in Smithsonian.com, this year’s head lice are running with a tougher crowd.

Continue reading

What’s in a name? A species common name, that is

When scientists discover a new species–whether it is an insect, pathogen, weed, animal or aquatic species–they give it two names. One is the scientific name that will be used for the rest of the species’ existence to refer to the species, and the other is the “common name,” or the name that you will usually see in media reports. These names can take months, sometimes years or research before scientists formally present them, but while scientists are debating back and forth what the best name is, others will choose a common name just so they have a reference to the species, especially if they are trying to alert the public to be on alert.

Continue reading