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Flying critters on your Adirondack Vacation.
Some folks worry about the bothersome flying insects that might ruin their vacation in the country. Here are the facts--And some helpful advice. CLICK & GO! (On this page.) When is the Bug Season? The Central Park Factor. Come and enjoy yourself! Take a closer look at Our Flying Insects (A Chart). (Don't be afraid--they won't bite!) How not to get stung. Fourpeak's (No Risk) Flying Critter Money-back Guarantee. Learn about our flying critters: Black fly Mosquito Deer fly Deer tick Yellow jacket Wasp and hornets Bumble bee Honey bee Cluster fly Related Disease Information: Bee and Wasp sting Hypersensitivity. Lyme Disease and deer ticks. West Nile Disease in the Adirondacks. More about our flying insects: How they navigate. Letters to a Friend, #6: A Flying Critter Story. (On the next page.) What about the BEARS?
When is the Bug Season?
We are sometimes asked, "When is the best time to avoid the little buggers?" Look for the answer in the Bug Season column of our All About Our Flying Insects chart. Avoidance can also be managed by the vacation place you choose (See The Safest Place to Stay) and where you spend your time when out-of-doors.
Central Park Factor.
Check the Central Park Factor to see how bad the bugs are here in the Northcountry as compared to Central Park in NYC or where you live. For example, mosquitos are only half as bad here in the Adirondacks as back home where you are. Reason: The breezes here are stronger most of the day and the little buggers don't fly well except in still air. Cluster flies, on the other hand, are ten times as bad. Reason: We don't have any concrete here like you have in the city, so the earthworms have all that ground to live in. They're the hosts for the pupal stage of these cluster flies (a Northcountry adaptation, See notes.) Cluster flies need earthworms, not garbage, to breed in. But don't worry too much about the cluster flies. They're no problem at all except for a few warm days in winter. [NOTE: The "Central Park Factor" represent refined mathematical expressions developed after considerable on-site testing at both Central Park and in the Adirondacks. Technical data available on request.]
Come and enjoy yourself !
Get the facts about our flying insects. We hope you share our interest in these diverse and highly adapted creatures. Along with plants and trees and other living things, they share the open space with us, the mountains and the rivers, in our Adirondack wilderness rest and play-ground. And like other studies in animal behavior, they're fun to learn about.
If you have concerns about getting stung or catching a disease, here's some help:
1) Protective clothing and personal insect repellents. This is about black flies but covering your body (especially hair and neck) and use of personal insect repellant (Deet) on skin and clothing works against all flying critters.
2) How to avoid getting bitten. This is about ticks, but the notes will be generally helpful, and there's more in other sections.
3) How to prevent wasps and bees from stinging once you've encountered them.
4) About Bee and Wasp sting Hypersensitivity. Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet.
5) Lyme Disease and deer ticks.
6) West Nile Disease in the Adirondacks.
Learning about our Adirondack Flying Critters . . . has more information which will be useful.
If you're seriously troubled about possible discomfort or disease, we advise you to stay home or take a city vacation. Vacations shouldn't begin with fear and loathing. Maybe with a sense of something new ahead to learn about, but certainly with not with real apprehensions that would ruin any chance of a restful fun vacation. "If you do come, plan on enjoying yourself." The flying insects are part of the natural world and there's room for all of us here at Fourpeaks.
If you're thinking about a Fourpeaks visit, please phone us 518-524-6726 or email Martin@4peaks.com with any unresolved questions or concerns. We'll help with a personal response and suggestions.
We'll help you enjoy yourself with our Money-back Guarantee.
For a small fee, we'll insure your comfort with respect to flying insects you're fearful of. Insure yourself for as many insects as you fear. (See chart for costs.)
Here's how it works: Let's say, you're fearful of mosquitos, deer ticks and yellow jackets and are willing to pay a little extra for a Money-back Guarantee that these critters will not spoil your vacation. (Sorry, we don't insure against ants or other crawlers--just flying insects.) The cost is just $13 per person for your Fourpeaks vacation, regardless of the length of your stay, the season or the accommodation you choose. Here's how: The Mosquito Money-back Guarantee is free, the Deer Ticks Money-back Guarantee is free and the Yellow Jacket Money-back Guarantee costs $13, so you get covered against all three critters for just $13 per person. And here's the guarantee.
"If you or anyone in your family has their Fourpeaks vacation spoiled by mosquitos, deer ticks and/or yellow jackets, the unused portion of vacation rental will be refunded on a prorated basis."
[READ THIS SMALL PRINT: Each Flying Critter Money-back Guarantee is made in writing (similar to above statement) and included along with our Reservation Letter stating full particulars: dates, names of vacationing persons, accommodation and rental price. No Flying Critter Money-back Guarantee claims against Fourpeaks will be considered without written statements as outlined above.]
Here's how it works: Let's say, you book a week vacation at Fourpeaks (costing $900 including tax) and there are 4 people plus a dog in your family. The cost of the combined mosquitos, deer ticks and yellow jackets Money-back Guarantee is $13 per person, or just $52 for your entire stay. (Dogs don't count. We can't give dogs a Money-back Guarantee.)
Unfortunately, your wife's Fourpeaks vacation spoiled by mosquitos on the third day. The unused portion of her Fourpeaks vacation ($128.57) is cheerfully refunded ($900/4 persons/7days*4 days refunded). No questions asked.
Black Fly Control. The black fly is not a serious problem at Fourpeaks due to an effective control program in the Town of Jay and the other towns in the immediate area. Several times in early spring, control technicians visit each and every small mountain stream and rivulet where the black fly develops (see below) and treat the waters with a fungal larvicide preparation (containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis-B.t.i) that kills the fly in the larval stage. The brook that runs from Ebenezer to Stonehouse Road at Sugar Camp and the smaller stream by New Camp are among the streams treated in this way each year. Black flies may be encountered (in deep woods at the higher elevations) but not in great numbers and never a serious problem.
The following facts may still be of general interest.
No other biting flies inspire such apprehension, particularly among visitors to the Northcounrty, as do black flies. In the deep forest this fear may be justified, for members of the Simulium venustum species complex can be so numerous and can attack so persistently that outdoor activity during the day without some protection becomes almost impossible. Black flies often land and take off repeatedly without biting. Their numbers, and their tendency to bite, increase as sunset approaches. Even when they are not biting, however, their buzzing presence and constant crawling is as irritating as the bloodsucking itself. Mercifully, relief comes after dark, for unlike mosquitoes and biting midges, black flies do not attack at night. Also unlike mosquitoes, black flies seldom attack indoors or even in a vehicle. Once they sense they're being trapped their attention seems permanently diverted to escape and they spend the rest of their lives crawling up the screen or window pane.
Although they cannot bite through clothing, black flies have a predilection for crawling into hair or under clothing, biting in inaccessible places, such as the ankles and belt line. Tucking trouser cuffs into socks will normally prevent them from getting at the ankles, and insect repellent (personal insect repellent, like Deet, not an insecticide) impregnated clothing, scarf, hat, etc. will discourage most of them from crawling under one's shirt or into one's hair.
A substance commonly called "Deet" (diethyltoluamide(N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), a colorless oily liquid insect repellent) is the active ingredient in personal insect repellents. It has a disorienting effect on insects homing in on animal scent or heat. Look for a high strength spray or lotion. We reccommend "Ben's 1-00 Max" (95% Deet) available at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley 518/576-2281 ( 1-1/4 oz. $4.50). There are a similar products available at outdoor shops in the area. Look for the highest strength DEET you can find.
Black flies are strongly influenced by color; they find dark hues more attractive than pale ones, and blue, purple, brown, and black more attractive than white or yellow. A light-colored shirt, therefore, is a much better choice of clothing than a dark blue one. It is a moot point, however, whether blue jeans might not be better than pale trousers: if they are carefully tucked in at the ankles and are without holes, jeans may help to attract the flies away from the head region.
In the Adirondacks, black flies are on the wing in early May (coincident with the bursting of buds of forest trees, especially sugar maple), before mosquitoes appear in numbers. There are more species of black flies than of mosquitoes; over 100 have already been recorded, and there are more that have not even been named. Black flies are more selective in their choice of host than are mosquitoes, and comparatively few species take human blood. Most species seem to feed only on the blood of birds and a substantial percentage apparently do not take blood at all, because their mouthparts have degenerated and appear useless for bloodsucking. Bird biters may, however, be attracted to man, probably by the carbon dioxide he breathes out, and when numerous can be annoying, even though they do not bite.
Black fly larvae of various species may be found in every type of flowing water, from minute seepages in which the flow is scarcely detectable, to the largest rivers and waterfalls. Each species seems to have its preferences for streams of a certain width, velocity, and character; springs and seepages have their own particular black fly species, whereas large rivers and water falls support a different fauna. Most species seem rare; in contrast, some are so abundant that their larvae carpet thousands of square metres of river bottom. Each larva normally remains fixed in one place, clinging by means of a ring of numerous minute hooklets at its posterior end to a small pad of "silk," a salivary secretion that the larva attaches to an object in the current. Using the same structures as the mosquito larva (labral brushes, man dibles, maxillae, and so forth), though modified extensively for coping with moving water, the black fly larva filter feeds by straining small particles, in the form of algae and detritus, from the water that flows past. Larvae cannot easily discriminate between different types of particles and swallow everything within a certain size range that gets caught by their mouthparts, including the fecal pellets of larvae upstream. In this respect they are important recyclers of nutrient material. Their inability to discriminate between particles also renders them vulnerable to being fed insecticides in the form of tiny pellets.
Although black fly larvae can remain for long periods in one place, anchored to their small pad of silk, they are capable of changing positions. After attaching a new pad of silk, the larva grasps it with the hooklets at the end of its anterior proleg (a finger-like projection just behind and below the head), releases its posterior hold and brings the posterior hooklets for ward to grasp the new pad. A larva can thus progress, albeit slowly, in a looper-like fashion. If irritated, however, the larva instantly attaches some silk to the substrate, then lets go completely, drifting downstream at the end of a dragline of silk like a spider, except that the silk is produced from its tongue rather than from spinnerets as in a spider. It can then either work its way back up the dragline or drift downstream indefinitely until a suitable situation is encountered again. This drifting habit explains why some species that are normally inhabitants of small streams are occasionally collected in large rivers. When a larva is fully grown, it searches out a suitable place to spin its cocoon, in which it pupates. The cocoon, a sac-like or slipper-shaped structure, is made of the same salivary secretion with which the larva uses to anchor itself. The cocoon is always firmly attached to some underwater object, or even partially buried in the bottom silt, with the anterior end of the pupa protruding from the opening. All black fly pupae have a pair of filamentous gill-like organs, arising behind the head, for gas exchange; the number and shape of these organs is of diagnostic value in identifying the species. After a week, or more, just before the adult is ready to emerge, the pupa fills with gas. The adult emerges, expanding its wings as it does so, and, leaving the pupal skin behind in the cocoon, bobs to the surface completely surrounded by this protective film of gas. Like a mosquito, it too can stand on the water surface, and may ride downstream a short distance before taking flight.
Depending on the species mosquitos can grow to 4 to 6 mm long. Only the females bite and suck blood, which they need for reproduction. The males do not bite.
Usually the mosquito larvae grow in stagnant (dirty) and shallow water. Moisture and heat speed up the developing cycle of the larvae.
Mosquitos are mostly active in the time between dusk and dawn - on warm humid days in the afternoon as well. In the daytime they usually hide in moist shady places such as hedges and woodland, or in houses.
See West Nile Disease information below.
Deer flies are slightly larger than house flies, and mostly yellow or black with darker stripes on the abdomen and dark markings or patterns on the wings. They have brilliant green or golden eyes with zigzag stripes.
Female deer flies are painful biters. They feed on the blood of deer, other warmblooded animals, and even humans. These flies cut through the skin with their knife-like mouthparts and suck the blood for several minutes. Biting deer flies frequently attack humans along summer beaches, near streams, and at the edges of moist, wooded areas. Some people, when bitten, suffer lesions, fever, and even general disability. Symptoms are allergic reactions to hemorrhagic saliva poured into the wound to prevent clotting while the fly is feeding. A person can become increasingly sensitive to repeated bites.
Life Cycle and Habits Eggs are deposited in masses usually on vegetation or other objects over water near the larval habitat. After eggs hatch in 5 to 12 days, small larvae drop down and burrow into moist, wet soil found in marshes, stream banks, and bottoms of lakes and ponds. They may drop into rapidly flowing streams or burrow into dry soil. Larvae feed on organic debris, other insects, tiny crustaceans, snails, earthworms, and aquatic or semiaquatic organisms. Larvae overwinter in muddy soils, maturing in late spring. Pupation occurs in dry soil. The larval stage is about one year or up to two to three years for some species. The pupal period may range from 6 to 12 days depending on temperature and species. Adults are strong fliers, and appear in early summer with females feeding on blood while males feed on flower nectar, honeydew, plant juices, and other liquids. The life cycle may require from two months to two or three years, depending on the species and geographical region. Some species must obtain a blood meal before the development of each batch of eggs. Adults of most species are seen for only about one month, but often there is an overlapping succession of species during the season. Humans are seriously annoyed by deer flies around woodland areas with streams.
Deer Tick and Lyme Disease
The most prevalent tick-borne disease of humans in the U.S. is Lyme disease (about 10,000 cases annually), named after Lyme, Connecticut where cases were first reported in 1975. The nymphal stage of the Black-legged tick is usually responsible for transmission of this bacterial disease to humans in the U.S. The nymph (in unfed condition) is about the size of a flat-pinhead and pale brown in color. Be alert for a red, ring-like lesion developing at the site of a tick bite within 2 to 32 days. Fever or headache may also be present. Immediate antibiotic therapy reduces the risk of subsequent arthritic, neurologic, or cardiac complications developing days to years later. Endemic areas in the United States include the east coast from Massachusetts to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern California, Oregon, and southern Washington.
The distribution of Lyme Disease in the United States is strongly linked to the distribution of the principal tick vectors. The principal vector for the Northeastern and Midwestern United States is the Black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. The Deer tick, Ixodes dammini, was described as a new species and as the vector of Lyme disease, but recent reports have stated that both ticks are actually one in the same, and therefore should be called the "Black-legged tick."
Tick Avoidance. Stay out of weedy, tick-infested areas. Make frequent personal inspections. Examine children at least twice daily. Pay special attention to the head and neck. Check clothing for crawling ticks. Keep dogs tied or penned in a mowed area as they may bring ticks into the home or yard. Check them daily. If ticks are found, follow tick removal instructions (see below). If exposure to a tick-infested area is unavoidable, tuck pant cuffs into socks or boots. Wearing light-colored clothing makes it easier to find crawling ticks.
Tick Removal. If a tick should become attached to you or your pet, remove it as soon as possible. Prompt removal reduces the chance of infection by Lyme Disease (LD).
Shield your fingers with a paper towel, use tweezers or wear rubber gloves. Grasp the tick close to the skin, and with steady pressure, pull straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as mouthparts may be left in the skin. Take care not to crush or puncture the tick during removal. Use of a hot match or cigarette to remove a tick is NOT recommended as this may cause the tick to burst. Spotted fever may be acquired from infected tick body fluids that come in contact with broken skin, the mouth, or eyes. Avoid touching ticks with bare hands. Tick secretions can be infectious. Spotted fever can be acquired through self-inoculation into a small scratch or cut. After removing a tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water. Ticks can be tested for Lyme Disease. Place the tick in a small jar or ziplock plastic bag, along with a few blades of green grass (to provide moisture). Store the tick in a cool place until it can be delivered to your doctor. Ticks can be safely disposed of by placing them in a container of oil or alcohol, sticking them to tape, or flushing them in the toilet. See Lyme Disease Information below.
Yellowjacket wasps often become a nuisance, especially from August through October, as they build up in large populations and scavenge for human food at picnics and cookouts in heavily inhabited areas. They appear in the country, too, in dry fields where their nests may be accidentally disturbed. They are aggressive and the sting is painful. (See Sting Prevention and what to do below.)
Identification. A typical yellowjacket worker is about 1/2-inch long, short and blocky, with alternating black and yellow bands on the abdomen while the queen is larger, about 3/4-inch long. (The different black and yellow patterns on the abdomen help separate various species.) Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger without barbs and can sting repeatedly whereas honey bees have a barbed stinger and sting only once. Some have yellow on the face. Mouthparts are well-developed for capturing and chewing insects with a tongue for sucking nectar, fruit and other juices.
Life Cycle and Habits. Yellowjackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense. From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 to 15,000 cells in August and late September. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly decompose and disintegrate during the winter. Nests inside structures will persist as long as they are dry. Nests are not used again. In the spring, the cycle is repeated. (Weather in the spring is the most important factor in colony establishment.) Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar and tree sap), the larvae feed on proteins (insects, meats, fish, etc.). Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults. (This exchange of material is known as trophallaxis.) In late autumn, foraging workers (nuisance scavengers) change their food preference from meats to ripe, decaying fruits since larvae in the nest fail to meet requirements as a source of sugar.
Sting Prevention. It is always best to avoid unnecessary stings. Should a yellowjacket wasp fly near you or land on your body, never swing or strike at it or run rapidly away since quick movements often provoke attack and painful stings. When a wasp is near you, slowly raise your hands to protect your face remaining calm and stationary for a while and then move very slowly (avoid stepping on the ground nest), backing out through bushes or moving indoors to escape. Wasps and bees can fly about six to seven miles per hour so humans can outrun them. However, by the time one starts running, there could quickly be a dozen or so painful stings caused by the rapid movement. There is an old saying that "one who stands still and shoots an aerial nest with a shotgun need not fear, instead it is the person that rapidly runs away who gets all the stings." Never strike, swing or crush a wasp or bee against your body since it could incite nearby yellowjackets into a frenzied attack. Wasp venom contains a chemical "alarm pheromone," released into the air, signaling guard wasps to come and sting whomever and whatever gets in their way. Unfortunately, many serious accidents have resulted when one runs away from attacking wasps and into the path of automobiles. When a bee or wasp gets into a moving car, remain calm. They almost never sting when in enclosed spaces as a car or house. Instead, they fly against windows. Slowly and safely pull over off the road, open the windows and allow the escape.
Paper Wasp and Hornets
Paper wasps and hornets become a nuisance when nesting around homes and other structures where people live, work or play. Although beneficial to agriculture, their painful stinging ability causes alarm and fear.
The northern or paper wasp is about 3/4 to 1-inch long, slender, narrow waisted with long legs and reddish-orange to dark brown or black in color. There are yellowish markings on the abdomen (rear body part). Paper-like nests, shaped like tiny umbrellas, are suspended by a short stem attached to eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, attic rafters, etc. Each nest consists of a horizontal layer or "tier" of circular comb of hexagonal (six-sided) cells not enclosed by a paper-like envelope. The ends of the cells are open with the heads of the larvae exposed to view.
Baldfaced hornets are up to 3/4-inch long with black and ivory white markings on the face, thorax (middle body part) and tip of the abdomen. Paper-like nests are grayish-brown, inverted, pear-shaped up to three feet tall with the nest entrance at the bottom. Each nest consists of a number of horizontal layers, stories or "tiers" of circular combs, one below the other completely enclosed by a paper-like envelope as a covering. Also, the cells are not exposed to view.
Life Cycle and Habits. Paper wasps and hornets are social insects, living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places such as houses and other structures, hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, etc. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. One egg is laid in each cell. As she adds more cells around the edge, eggs are deposited. Larvae in the center are older with the younger larvae further out. It is the cells at the rim of the nest which contain eggs. After eggs hatch, the queen feeds the young larvae. When larvae are ready to pupate, cells are covered with silk, forming little domes over the individual openings. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called "workers." By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, caring for the queen and larvae and defending the colony. Remember with paper wasps, the nest is the work of a single female, has a single layer or "tier" of cells and is not enclosed by envelopes. In hornets, the nests usually consist of a number of stories or "tiers," one below the other and completely enclosed by spherical walls. Each cell may be used for two or three successive batches of brood.
Adult food consists of nectar or other sugary solutions such as honeydew and the juices of ripe fruits. Paper wasps and hornets also feed on bits of caterpillars or flies that are caught and partially chewed before presenting to their young. Hornets may be seen almost any summer day engaged in their winged pursuit of flies.
Sting Prevention. Paper wasps and hornets have a lance-like stinger and can sting repeatedly. When a paper wasp or hornet is near you, slowly raise your hands to protect your face, remaining calm and stationary for a while and then move very slowly away. Never swing, strike or run rapidly away since quick movement often provokes attack and painful stings. Restrain children from throwing rocks or spraying nests with water. Avoid creating loud noises and disturbance near the nest. Also, remember that if a paper wasp or hornet gets into the automobile while driving, never panic. It wants out of the car as much as you want it out. Slowly pull over off the road, and open the car windows and doors. Trying to remove or kill a paper wasp or hornet while the car is moving can result in accidents. See Bee and Wasp Sting Hypersensitivity below.
Bumblebeees are large hairy bees (3/4 to 1 1/2 inches) that collect and carry pollen on their hind legs to bring it back to the hive. Many of them are black and yellow, and along with ladybirds and butterflies are perhaps the only insects that almost everyone likes. Bumblebees with their lazy buzz and clumsy-looking flight are welcome visitors to our gardens as they pollinate our flowers.
Life Cycle. Their colonies are a spectacular example of social organization, with each member working tirelessly to protect and build the colony. Bumble bees are semi-social bees with some similarities to the honey bee. Bumble bees have a queen that produces drones, workers and other queens. However, the colonies are annual, unlike the honey bee's year-round colonies.
Queens emerge from their winter resting stage, called diapause, each spring and begin foraging for nectar and pollen. All the fairly large bumblebees seen flying in early spring, are overwintered queens busy feeding and searching for nesting sites after their long hibernation. Bumble bees hold pollen on their hind legs like the honey bee. (Bumblebees feed on pollen and nectar, and rear their grubs on the same diet. In this respect they differ from wasps, whose young are fed on a meat diet of caterpillars and other insects.) The queen uses the collected pollen and nectar to rear workers. Worker bees are non-reproductive females. Once the new workers begin to forage, the queen stops foraging and stays in the nest to produce more brood. The workers feed and care for the developing brood. During this period of time, when workers care for larvae and a division of labor exists, the colonies are considered "social." Towards the end of summer the colony begins to produce reproductive queens and drones. When these reproductives mature, they leave the colony and mate. The new queens then find a suitable overwintering site and go into diapause over the winter.
Bumble bees are common and inconspicuous insects; yet most people have never seen the fascinating bustle of activity in the nest of the bumble bee. Inside the nest, a colony of these social insects may number 200 or more. Members engage in most of the activities of a human society-gathering food, caring for offspring, constructing a home, defending it, and regulating the environment inside it.
Bumble bees are beneficial insects, performing unexcelled pollinating services for such crops as red clover and blueberries. They are docile and unaggressive while foraging on flowers.
Domesticated honey bees are active workers and forage very far from their hives. As a bee buzzes around from one flower to another, the bee transfers pollen from one part of a flower to another. (This makes them very useful in agriculture.) The honey bee collects the nectar through their proboscis. The small insects fly back and forth to their hives putting the nectar into their special sacks. The bees spend most of their lives flying back and forth collecting honey for the hive. The common European species found in northern climates is docile and will not sting unless accidentally disturbed. But there has been a lot of concern about African or Killer bees. (None here in the Northcountry.)
The Africanized Honey Bee is a result of mating between African bees and European honey bees of North and South America. The bees interbred in the wild with the European honey bees, resulting in "Africanized" offspring. These bees are moving northward about 100 to 300 miles per year. They have spread throughout most of South America, Mexico, southern parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Identification. All honey bee colonies are composed of three castes: a queen, several hundred drones, and from 30,000 to 50,000 workers. Because colonies are highly specialized, no individual bee, including the queen, is capable of living alone or establishing a new colony. The worker bee, which flies from flower to flower, is the most familiar of the three castes. It measures about 3/8- to 1/2-inch long.
Queens are responsible for reproduction in their colonies. Their drones mate with the queens, while the workers, which are sterile females, collect nectar and pollen and defend the colony. Workers have barbed stingers. When a bee stings a human, it leaves both the stinger and tiny, attached venom sac. This causes the bee to die soon after. If you are stung, simply scrape the stinger out to remove it.
Cluster flies are found in homes and other structures. These large, sluggish flies, sometimes called "attic flies," appear on warm, sunny days during late autumn, winter and early spring. They occur in large numbers, especially at windows and in rooms not frequently used. They make irritating, buzzing noises, spin around and move sluggishly. They do not bite humans nor feed on structures or furnishings.
Identification. Adult cluster flies resemble house flies, but are slightly larger, about 5/16 inch long, narrower and nonmetallic gray. When at rest, they overlap their wings at the tips, whereas the house fly does not.
Life Cycle and Habits. Female cluster flies lay eggs singly in soil cracks and crevices in the vicinity of the earthworm, Allolobophthora spp. Eggs hatch in three days and the larvae (parasitic stage) penetrate and develop in the bodies of earthworms. This larval stage lasts 13 to 22 days, and the pupal stage, 11 to 14. The life cycle is completed in 27 to 39 days. There are about four generations during the summer. Populations vary from year to year, sometimes worse after wet summers.
Adult cluster flies move to protected places to hibernate (overwinter) when the days shorten in mid-August. Flies cluster on the warm sides of buildings in late summer during the day. As the sun goes down and temperatures cool, flies crawl into the building through cracks, especially under eaves, gaps in siding, etc. Large numbers may group together (cluster) in attics, unused rooms, wall voids, basements, tree holes and other darkened sites. They are attracted to light, light-colored siding and structures on lawns and pastures inhabited by earthworms. They enter rooms through sash-cord openings, cracks in windowsills or baseboards, loose-fitting vinyl or aluminum siding, and other small openings. They become active whenever temperatures rise above 54 degrees F indoors from early autumn to mid-spring, especially around windows with sunlight.
Cluster flies do not breed in buildings but leave hibernation sites in the spring (they often swarm onto windows on warm sunny days) to return outdoors for reproduction activity. Just as they become a nuisance in the fall while seeking hibernating quarters, they are also bothersome in the spring, trying to escape.
Fourpeaks buildings are treated seasonally with synthetic pyrethroids to control hibernating flies. Cluster flies hibernating in the wall voids periodically emerge on warm winter days and early spring. Killing visible flies with space sprays and fogs does give temporary control. Unfortunately, additional flies are usually under insulation or deep in cracks and crevices. Also, flies will often continuously emerge from openings around window pulleys, window and door casings, under baseboards, tops of wall studs, etc. If flies are bothersome when active during warm winter and early spring days they may be controlled by ordinary air spray.
Related Disease Information: Web Sources.
Are you allergic to Bee and Wasp stings?
It's easy to prevent bee and wasp stings. Proper clothing is a must. Certain individuals are hypersensitive and should receive medical care. Learn more about the risks, prevention and other important health information from the Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, Bee and Wasp Stings, HYG-2076-96.
Lyme Disease and Deer Ticks.
Deer populations are much smaller in the Adirondacks as compared to downstate forests and suburban areas. Prevention is easy with proper clothing and tick removal. Learn more from the Center for Disease Control - CDC Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases (DVBID) Lyme Disease Home Page and Lyme Disease: Prevention and Control.
Mosquitos, Crows and the West Nile Disease.
Essex County (Eastern Adirondacks) Health Department has reported no evidence of West Nile Disease. Still concerned individuals may wish to become informed about the risks, symptoms and treatment. The Center for Disease Control - CDC Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases (DVBID) maintains the West Nile Virus Home Page as well as information concerning Surveillance and Control of the West Nile Virus.
More about our flying insects: How they navigate.
Biological agents are impressive navigators. Especially ants and bees are able to carry out incredible navigational tasks, despite their tiny bodies and their limited computational and memory resources. A desert ant, for example, can return home unfailingly after searching for food in places hundreds of meters away, and a honeybee can home reliably after flying to a food source located several kilometers away. A number of experiments performed with insects have unraveled important properties of the navigation strategies that they use. It is known, for example, that ants and bees use skylight patterns as a compass to determine the direction in which they travel. Bees measure how far they have traveled by integrating, over time, the image motion (optical flow) that they experience. Ants measure distance traveled by similar means, as well as through counting steps (proprioception). By continously monitoring compass and distance information, an insect searching for food is able to keep track of the distance and direction to its nest. In addition to this path integration mechanism, insects use visual landmarks.
Landmarks play an important role in guiding the insect home very precisely when it is near its goal. Recent experimental work is beginning to unravel details about the visual landmark navigation strategies of bees and ants.
Fourpeaks Outdoor Activities. A 700-acre private Adirondack wilderness right at your door. 20 miles of hiking/skiing trails. No traveling to get there. No crowds at the trailheads and summits. An unequalled nature experience with no people. River swimming and fishing at the nearby AuSable River. A wilderness lake. Lots more. Browse our 10 activity pages. [CLICK HERE for Fourpeaks Adirondack Activities.]
Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all. Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out! [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]
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