Friday, February 19, 2016

Ox beetles

Have you found ginormous grubs in your compost pile?  If so, don’t panic!

Grubs are a common name for beetle larvae and these particular rubs become Ox beetles.  The larvae look like a typical white grub and have a creamy C-shaped body, reddish head capsule and six legs.  The difference is that these grubs look like they've been taking steroids and can fill the palm of your hand.

Adult beetles are shiny brown and about 2 inches long. Males have horns while females do not.  It takes 1-2 years for a generation to mature. So, if you find these guys (and girls) in your compost pile, leave them in peace...they're helping you compost!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Zika virus

I thought I would jump on the band wagon and get some information out about Zika virus.  This seems to be the latest and (not the) greatest in the news as of late.  Considering that the first case of local transmission was detected within Texas in the past week, everyone needs to know about this so they can take proper precautions.

Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.  Currently, there is no specific treatment for the virus, nor is there a vaccine.  The best way to avoid getting Zika virus is to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes.  Zika virus can be contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito, through blood transfusions, through sexual contact, and from mother to child during pregnancy.

While the incubation period of Zika virus is unknown, it is thought to be from a few days to a week long.  Symptoms include fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache.  Symptoms tend to be mild and last from 2-7 days. About 20% of people with Zika virus actually get ill from the virus and severe disease that requires hospitalization is uncommon.  Death due to the virus is rare.

The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are also able to transmit dengue and Chikungunya viruses.  These mosquitoes are daytime biters, but can also bite at night.  Aedes mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs near or in standing water, so reducing these sources can be a way to reduce mosquito populations near your home.  More information on reducing sources here.

To protect yourself from mosquito bites, wear light colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible, use insect repellent (read and follow label instructions), use screening on doors and windows, reduce standing water, and if sleeping outside, use mosquito netting.

For more information on Zika virus, please see the CDC website here: