How much is that bug in the window? or Is my house going to fall down today?

Swarmers in East Texas

Well it’s that time of year. I go from being available, to several weeks behind in one or two days. Swarm Season is the time of year when obnoxious offspring  of one of the most damaging insects are released into the world. Their numbers can be few or in such large numbers they are considered a catastrophic swarm.  It will usually start the day or two after a strong Spring storm followed by a mild warm day. Then at approximately 2:00 pm CST, the phone begins to ring. Then at approximately 3:00 pm CST when Kids return home from School; 5:00 pm  and 7:00 pm CST when people arrive home from work. Holidays are no exception. I have even received calls on Easter Sunday while at Church.

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If you are wondering, I am not looking for Easter eggs in the picture above.  Corrective treatments can be challenging. We have many tools and new technologies to help contain and minimize the damage of Termites, but they are a formidable opponent.  They cause so much damage that insurance companies won’t cover their treatment cost. It is estimated they do more damage each year than fires and storms combined in the United States.

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Termite Tubes in Floor Joist
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The question that always comes up is,” How much damage do you think they have done”.  It  all depends on the species. Some cause damage more quickly due to their increased numbers and abilities to create sub-colony waystations (cartons)  so they don’t have to return to the soil. All are damaging to cellulose containing materials. Lumber and paper products are  bound together collections of water, cellulose and wood fibers. Unless the termites are left undetected or untreated, it will take a substantial  time for a house to “fall down” from termite damage.

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Termite Shelter Tube

The most common Termites in the Southern United States are the Subterranean Termites, Reticulitermes Sp.  and her more evil cousin Coptotermes formosanus.  Yes, I said her. As with most colony type insects the colony  members are almost all female or asexual. They do have a king and he mates for life with the queen. They travel everywhere outside the colony in a sheltered highway tunnel of mud. Even through the material they are consuming. They have soldiers for protection and they need it. Ants are the termites’ eternal enemy. If their was ever a good reason for  Fire Ants (Solenopsis Sp.) this may be it.

Well the good news is we have many options to manage termites and minimize damage to the structure. From conventional liquid methods to baits the technology is evolving for more efficient, environmentally responsible methods.  The key to minimizing damage is to be proactive and have the structure inspected occasionally by a professional who is licensed and insured. Then follow up on their recommendations if you have any conditions that are condusive to Termite infestations.

Well got to go! Another call, another swarm castle. Somedays my life is like herding cats.

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Swarm Castle

The Real Reason To Study Entomology. Pt.2

My fishing devotion started on the Gulf coast of Texas with my Dad and Uncle Bob. These evil men would  wake me at what I thought of as an ungodly hour of 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning to drive to the bay after stopping to fill their thermos and pick up frozen shrimp. Then launch the boats and fly across the bay at light speed, in all conditions to drop the first lines over the oyster beds by first light. Later we would purchase live shrimp from the Shrimp boats working the bay, to go after Specs and Bull reds.

My love for fly fishing I will blame on two lovely ladies. My beautiful bride who one Christmas gave me a knockout graphite shafted rod and reel combo with a Bailey fly box full of imitations. I was the proverbial kid in the candy store.  The organization I was with at the time planned a trip in late spring down the Quadalupe River.  Tubing one afternoon with my kit I enticed a Rainbow to swallow my gnat fly. We were both hooked, him to be released, me on a journey.

The other lady is known as dorothea. She is known in Latin as Ephemerella dorothea. Most people call her the Mayfly.  She has captivated fishermen and fish for millenia. Her life is a classic ugly duckling story, however prey and preditor love her no matter what she looks like.  She abides most of her life at the bottom of the stream striving to survive and not become a meal for almost all her neighbors.

young dorothea pict

young dorothea pict

Then one perfect day, she rises to the surface and unfolds her wings to dry and flys to the nearest perch to bask in the sun and orient herself to her new surroundings. She don’t have long, she won’t even eat for her two days of life out of water. Find her partner, mate, return to the water surface and release her eggs to sink to the bottom of the stream, then allow the current to carry her as life fades.

dorothea pict

dorothea pict

The immitations of her carry more names than one can remember.  Floating one down in the middle of a rise is thrilling. Seeing it swallowed and the fight that follows is regenerative.  Brings back memories of men who were not really evil, now just saints. Miss those guys!!

dorothea stamp

dorothea stamp

 

 

The real reason to study Entomology. Part 1.

As with most Fly-fishermen and women I can be impatient at times.   I have been known to have many projects going at the same time.  Peace comes not from the catch, the completion of the project , or at Payday. Peace comes in preparing for the trip, the loading of the perfect cast, the discovery of the usually unseen during the inspection.

Ok, the feeling at the end of a morning walk through cold water waving a stick is mighty peaceful. And I admit sitting in front of a fire after the evening walk, sipping out my flask warming up is too. But the memories of the most severe critics in the world rising and taking without reservation your creation of wire, string and feathers is timeless.

 

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