Friday, May 23, 2008

What to do when you're chased by bees

I've been doing a bit of research on writing good headlines, so hopefully I'll start improving.... what do you think of this one? Catchy?

This week I spoke with CBS42 (KEYE) about bees after a man was attacked by a swarm of bees while mowing his lawn. To see the story you can try this link:

So what can you do to reduce your chance of being stung?

- avoid areas that have lots of bees or a colony
- look around your yard and get rid of any bee colonies you may find before using lawn equipment; the vibrations produced by lawn mowers, etc. tend to upset bees
- wear light colored clothing
- avoid using/wearing flowery or citrusy shampoo, lotion, perfume, aftershave, etc.
- if bees come after you, RUN! as fast as possible away from the bees
- try to cover your face as you run away since bees often try to attack that area
- find a sheltered spot as quickly as possible (inside a building, vehicle, etc.)
- do not try to hide under water or in shrubs

If you are stung what should you do? Remove the stinger as soon as possible. Bee stingers are barbed, like the end of a fish hook, so bees can only sting you once. As the bee flies away, it leaves the stinger stuck into your skin. The stinger should be scraped off, not plucked out with tweezers or your fingers (plucking will push in more venom). Try using a fingernail, credit card, knife edge, etc. to scrape the stinger off. If you are stung numerous times or begin to have any problems other than local pain and swelling, contact a physician immediately.

Another bee story this week is in the form of a "bee rescue" service- Central Texas Bee Rescue & Preserve. They will come out and for a fee, remove bees from the area. The bees will then be placed into hives instead of being exterminated. You can read more about this story here:

On a lighter note....BB's update:

Well, of course after posting that we hadn't felt any movement, BB decided to make his/her presence known. I'm now regularly enjoying pokes, prods, kicks, etc. It's a bit weird since it's a new sensation, but it's also really cool and reassures me that BB's in there swimming around doing his/her thing. So this week BB is about 5 1/2-6 inches long and developing fat layers on the body as well as myelin over the nerve cells. At this point, BB has active & rest periods. It seems one of the favorite times to be active is between 3-5 a.m. which is becoming interesting. If I look tired, you'll now know why. As for me, the belly is still growing and things that used to be simple are becoming increasingly difficult such as getting up off the floor or putting on my shoes and socks. I just can't quite bend like I used to.....

Have a great holiday weekend and be safe!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Ahhh...the conundrum that is thrips. Is a lone thrips still a thrips or is it a thrip? It's kind of like that whole fish/ fishes thing...thrips are always thrips.

Anyway, I digress....I got a call a couple of days ago about thrips. No, the call wasn't about someone's roses, which thrips love, it was about someone being bitten by thrips. Bitten? You thought thrips feed on plant tissue? You're right! BUT....sometimes when thrips are wandering around looking for a mate or a plant to feed on, they occassionally land on people. When this happens, they often rasp the skin with their mouthparts to see if they're on a plant. This "bite" can cause a sudden burning sensation and may, on some people, leave a red welt. Once the little bugger figures out that it's not on a plant, it usually flies away. Sometimes though, they move to another area of the skin and "bite" again- maybe they're just double checking the plant thing.

So if this is happening to you, what can you do about it? Avoiding the area would be a good idea or you could try wearing long sleeves and long pants. With the weather we've been having lately, that might be a bit hot, but it should save your skin from being bitten. You can try repellents, but they may not work all that well.

BB's update

This week BB is about 4 1/2 inches long, still tiny, but preparing to go through a growth spurt in the next few weeks, so if you see my middle expanding, you'll know why. The big thing this week is that BB can hear what we say now, so we've started reading every night. Currently we're reading Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia).

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there (including moms of the four-footed variety of children)!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Leaf-footed bugs

I thought that I'd try to head this one off at the pass. I know everyone has their tomatoes planted and I'll probably by getting calls on these guys pretty soon.

Leaf-footed bugs are brownish-grey and often have expanded regions on the hind leg that look similiar to leaves (hence the name). Some have a whitish stripe running across the back of the body. Nymphs look similar to adults, but are smaller and wingless. Sometimes nymph color can be a reddish-orange causing them to be mistaken with assassin bugs. If you want to be nerdy, like me, and happen to have a microscope or good handlens nearby, assassin bugs have a 3 segmented beak while leaf-footed bugs have a four segmented beak ("beak" refers to the mouthparts). Leaf-footed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they insert into plants and suck the juices out. They often will feed on tomatoes (usually what I get the most calls about- people are very attached to their tomatoes!), eggplant, beans, peaches, strawberies, watermelon plus others. Damage on will vary depending on the part of the plant that has been fed upon, but feeding can cause yellowing or deformity of the plant.

So, what are your options to get rid of these guys? Handpicking works well if you have time and patience. Make sure to wear leather gloves as they can bite and release a smell that can be slightly unpleasant. Vacuuming the bugs off the plants is another option- try a shop vac or smaller handheld unit if your afraid of sucking the whole plant up. You can also try contact kill insecticides such as d-limonene, pyrethrum or pyrethroids. Don't bother with insecticidal soap to kill adults since they'll scoff at you and fly away...these bugs have fairly hard exoskeletons. As with all pesticides, make sure to read the label to ensure you can treat the bug and plants that you want to treat.

On a sidenote....update on BB (Baby Brown)

We had a checkup yesterday and got to hear the heartbeat. It sounded very similiar to panting our lab does after playing outside in the summer. Kind of weird, but reassuring that things are progressing. I'm beginning to show a bit, so if you see me, no, I'm not just getting fat...there's a baby in there! The baby is about 4 inches long this week and is learning to breathe and building bones and muscle. Alan is being somewhat strict making sure I get enough calcium and eating enough fruits & veggies. He's cute, but can be annoying at times! ;)

Enjoy your weekend!