Climate Change, Fungi and Termites

Don’t take a chance with Termites! Have your home treated by Orlando Pest Control.

Climate change models could have a thing or two to learn from termites and fungi, according to a new study released this week.

For a long time scientists have believed that temperature is the dominant factor in determining the rate of wood decomposition worldwide. Decomposition matters because the speed at which woody material are broken down strongly influences the retention of carbon in forest ecosystems and can help to offset the loss of carbon to the atmosphere from other sources. That makes the decomposition rate a key factor in detecting potential changes to the climate.

But scientists from Yale, the University of Central Florida and SUNY Buffalo State found that fungi and termites, which help break down wood, may play a more significant role in the rate of decomposition than temperature alone.

The group’s findings appear in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“The big surprise of this work was the realization that the impact of organisms surpassed climate as a control of decomposition across spatial scales,” said Joshua King, a biologist at UCF and co-author of the paper. “Understanding the ecology and biology of fungi and termites is a key to understanding how the rate of decomposition will vary from place to place.”

So how did scientists originally come up with temperature as the main factor in decomposition? It has to do with data and math. Scientists most often construct a model based on the average decomposition rates of sites that are in close proximity to each other. In this case, it appears that each local number matter because they reflect the activity of fungi and termites. The team suggests that scientists need to embrace the variability found across data collected from many different sites instead of averaging it all together to create better models with more accurate predictions.

The team reached this conclusion after running a 13-month experiment. They distributed 160 blocks of pine tree wood across five sub-regions of temperate forest in the eastern U.S. — from Connecticut to northern Florida — and then monitored the decay that occurred.

They selected similar forest types, hardwood deciduous forests, to focus on major differences in climate across the regional gradient. (The average annual temperature in southern New England is about 11 degrees Celsius cooler than Florida.) Within each of the five sub-regions they placed the wood blocks in different types of terrain to evaluate the effects of local versus regional factors as controls on decomposition.

“Most people would try to make sure everything was as standard as possible,” said Mark A. Bradford, an assistant professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of the study. “We said, ‘Well, let’s generate as much variation as possible.’ So we put some blocks on south-facing slopes, where they would be warmer in the summer, and others on north-facing slopes where it’s colder. We put some on top of ridges and others next to streams where it was wetter.”

After 13 months, they measured how much wood had been lost, whether to the consumption of fungi growing on the wood or to termites consuming the wood.

According to their analysis, local-scale factors explained about three quarters of the variation in wood decomposition, while climate explained only about one quarter, contrary to the expectation that climate should be the predominant control.

“We’re reaching the wrong conclusion about the major controls on decomposition because of the way we’ve traditionally collected and looked at our data,” Bradford said. “That in turn will weaken the effectiveness of climate prediction.”

The team’s recommendation: collect more data at local sites and improve our understanding of how local conditions affect the organisms that drive decomposition, because they could significantly improve the effectiveness of climate change projections.

Co-authors of the study include: Robert J. Warren II from SUNY Buffalo State; Petr Baldrian from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Thomas W. Crowther, Daniel S. Maynard and Emily E. Oldfield from Yale; William R. Wieder, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO and Stephen A. Wood from Columbia University.

The National Science Foundation and Yale Climate & Energy Institute funded the research.

King is an assistant professor of biology at UCF. He has multiple degrees including a Ph.D in entomology from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in education from Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tufts. He is an expert on termites and ants and his work is currently funded by the National Science Foundation to study the ecology of ants in Florida and the southern US.


University of Florida entomologists predict termite risk in Florida to grow!

Termites? If you’ve ever had your house treated for them, you know it can be expensive. But the potential damage they can cause should never be ignored.

Now, though, University of Florida entomologists are predicting that subterranean termite activity will expand, placing half the structures in South Florida at risk of infestation by 2040. Call and hire Orlando Pest Control so your house won’t be one of them.

UF/IFAS recently released an interactive map on which Florida residents can see the historical termite activity in their area.

Researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will publish their new study in June in the journal Florida Entomologist. They are Assistant Researcher Thomas Chouvenc, Distinguished Professor Nan-Yao Su and Professor Rudy Scheffrahn.

Asian and Formosan subterranean termites cause about $32 billion in damage annually, worldwide, including the harm to structures and the measures to control them.

Six invasive termite species are now established in Florida, and among these, the Formosan subterranean termite, the Asian subterranean termite and the West Indian drywood termite pose particular concern for both state residents and the pest-control industry here because they cause most of the structural damage.

Asian and Formosan subterranean termites contribute in large part to the cost associated with termite damage and control globally, the study says.

South Florida, with about 6 million residents, represents the only location in the continental U.S. where the distribution of Asian and Formosan termites overlap. Asian subterranean termites stick to South Florida, venturing north only as far as Palm Beach County, but the Formosan termites go from Key West to Charleston, South Carolina, Chouvenc said.

Chouvenc, Su and Scheffrahn estimated the geographic spread of both termite invaders in South Florida, using records of specimens collected between 1985 and 2015 at the UF Termite Collection located at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. For each year of the study period – 1990 to 2015 – researchers estimated that any structure within a 500-meter radius from any recorded Asian subterranean or Formosan termite would be at risk of infestation.

Since 1990, these two types of termites have expanded their range considerably in Florida because of how far they fly and because more and more people move termite-infested material. As a result, the number of infested structures has increased exponentially, Chouvenc said.

“Facing the increasing pressure of both invasive subterranean termites in South Florida, area-wide termite management programs could be implemented to provide a long-term, sustainable solution for communities,” said Chouvenc, who, along with Su and Scheffrhan, is based at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale REC. Adding to their concern is that these two species may hybridize, something they documented in a study last year.

“If their activity increases, the risk for species interaction and hybridization may also increase,” Chouvenc said.

UF/IFAS recently released an interactive map on which Florida residents can see the historical termite activity in their area.

Monitoring for termite damage or activity is an important first step, Chouvenc said. People can send termite samples to be identified by the termite team at the Fort Lauderdale REC, to determine if structures could be damaged by the pests.



Why Is It So Hard To Kill A Cockroach?

Why Is It So Hard To Kill A Cockroach?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to deal with cockroaches in your Orlando home, you know that these pests are no joke. Cockroaches are amazingly resilient creatures that are much harder to kill than other kinds of bugs and insects. Your first instincts of stepping on a roach or hitting it with bug spray may not finish the job. All American Pest Control can help you learn more about cockroaches, why they are so hard to kill, and how you can still protect your property from these pests with Orlando Pest Control.


Why Cockroaches Can Survive Almost Anything

There’s a reason that jokes about cockroaches surviving the apocalypse are so widespread. Roaches show an evolutionary history that has led them to be almost indestructible. In addition to a strong physical body, they also have powerful senses and can adapt to almost any food source and living environment.

Cockroaches have exoskeletons, which means that their bodies are protected and supported by strong materials on the outside of their body. Their exoskeleton serves the same purpose as bones do in other types of creatures.

A cockroach’s exoskeleton is formed of many overlapping plates which are connected by a flexible, moveable membrane. This dense protective layer lets roaches change the shape of their bodies. Roaches can transfer their energy to their legs, which helps them fit through impossibly small cracks and crevices. The strong exoskeleton material protects roaches from being injured or crushed when moving through tight spaces.

In addition to a roach’s physical strengths, these pests also have powerful instincts and senses that help them stay alive. Cockroaches are skilled at hiding and their flexible bodies allow them to easily hide in many places. They can thrive in a wide range of temperatures and other factors, so they can wait out unfavorable conditions.

Roaches have also adapted to eating almost anything. They will choose traditional food sources like the contents of your pantry or garbage if given the opportunity. However, they can also make the most of garbage, building materials, and other substances that have few nutrients.


How To Keep Your Home Free From Roaches

Cockroaches are so difficult to kill that it’s better to keep roaches out of your home in the first place. These creatures can thrive in almost any environment, but there are some easy steps to discourage them from moving into your house or business. All American Pest Control recommends these methods to keep a variety of pests out of your building, beyond cockroaches.


Protect Your Perimeter

Deter roaches and other pests from moving into a building by protecting your perimeter. Cockroaches and other small creatures can make the most of very short, narrow cracks, but patching any entry points is still a powerful way to protect yourself. Here are some starting points for keeping your home or workplace roach-free.

Patch and seal any cracks around the outside of your building.

Close gaps under doors, around windows, and where utility lines enter the facility.

Seal or screen drain lines, sewer vents, and other places where water flows.


Exercise Safe Food Storage

Cockroaches can live in many environments, but they are always looking to meet their basic biological needs. Roaches come to your home searching for something to eat. Make it hard for roaches to find food in your home and they’ll move on to greener pastures. Explore these easy ways to keep food safely secured.

Keep food and ingredients in air-tight containers, which mask smells and are often impossible for roaches to enter.

Don’t leave food out overnight, including pet food.

Cover trashcans, both indoors and outdoors.

Clean crumbs and leftovers from tables, counters, and other surfaces.

In workplaces, encourage a food-safe culture. Discourage eating at desks and storing snacks in individual offices.


Regularly Clean

Cockroaches love all the mess. A messy home or workplace offers many opportunities for roaches to hide, breed, and find food. Follow these cleaning tips to discourage roaches.

Remove large stacks of paper and cardboard, which are valuable hiding places and sources of food.

Vacuum regularly.

Empty trash daily and keep outdoor trash containers away from your doors and windows.

If you see roaches in an area, clean that space as soon as possible to remove food and hiding spots.


All American Pest Control Can Kill Your Cockroaches

Roaches are resilient and infestations commonly require more than one treatment method. If you’re living with a serious cockroach problem, turn to expert Orlando exterminators, All American Pest Control. We will determine a professional plan to tackle your roach problem.

First, we determine the type of cockroach you’re struggling against. Unfortunately, Orlando is home to several cockroach varieties. Once we learn the type of roach in your home, we can target a treatment plan to specifically deter and kill those cockroaches.

Roach glue traps are a regular method for catching, identifying, and removing cockroaches. Roaches can escape many types of traps, but they’re unable to get away when stuck in a glue trap. Your expert All American Pest Control technician understands what types of traps are best for your home.


All American Pest Control
2014 Edgewater Dr #250, Orlando, FL 32804
(321) 559-7378
Orlando Pest Control