The world of pests is wonderful and mysterious and for many it is scary. This combination has given birth to many myths. Some myths were born out of fear, some out of misunderstanding, and some out of a desire to protect the pests themselves. Understanding pests, their environments, and their habits are keys to unraveling the myths associated with them. In this article we will discuss several common myths and rumors associated with pests in and around Maryland.
Bats will get caught in your hair - False
- I think that this one owes its origins to the 1931 film Dracula. In it, Count Dracula becomes a bat and visits Mina in her bedroom. As the count is flying around the room, Jonathan Harker exclaims, "Look out, he'll get in your hair!"
- Bats use echolocation at night to find small insects without relying on their eyesight. Bats echolocation is so finely tuned that they would definitely avoid your hair.
- There have been documented cases of bats getting in people's hair, but almost all of the cases were spelunkers and because of the tight quarters and close contact with several bats, this is to be expected.
Do bees really lose their stingers? Yes and no
- To answer this one correctly, one must understand the difference between bees and wasps. Only the Honeybee loses its stinger after a sting. All other bees and wasps keep their stingers and can sting multiple times.
Do wasps and bees bite? Yes
- Let me explain. Bees and wasps do indeed have mouths and can bite you. They generally do not because the primary defense mechanism of a bee or wasp is its stinger. Only the stinger can inject venom. The venom injected from a wasp or bee sting is what causes the intense pain and burning sensation experienced by the victim. The venom can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.
The average person swallows 8 spiders in their sleep during a lifetime - False
- This one (at least to me) is kind of funny if you really think about it. This is one of the myths that prays on peoples fears. Most people hate spiders and are appalled at the idea that they might be possibly eating them without even knowing it. It also infers that spiders are suicidal.
- Most arthropods flee from breath. A lot of animals eat arthropods and, if you are a spider, it's not a good idea to hang around if something is breathing on you.
Vacuum your mattress to get rid of bed bugs - False
- Vacuuming is just the first step of bed bug control. Bed bugs are flat and can get into tiny spaces that a vacuum cannot reach. If you have bed bugs it is strongly recommended that you seek a professional for help in dealing with them.
Mice love cheese - False
- Mice are opportunistic eaters and will generally eat anything available to them. However, according to a BBC article about a 2006 study by Manchester University academic Dr. David Holmes, mice would prefer to eat fruits or nuts.
- Mice respond to the smell and texture of food and cheese is not something that is available to mice in their natural habitat.
Ants only seek out sugar - False
- Ants seek out food depending on the needs of the colony and just like you, the ants have nutritional requirements. They also need protein and will adjust their feeding habits accordingly.
If you leave out food you will get roaches - False
- Roaches are one of the few pests that need to be brought into a structure.
- Leaving food out when there are already roaches present will definitely make the problem worse. Insects need food to survive. If you deny any pest food, it will die.
Coyotes are present in Maryland - True
- Coyotes were first documented in Maryland in 1972. Since then, there has been a steady increase in coyote population. It is estimated that there has been a 29% annual growth rate in the coyote population.
- Coyotes are seen more frequently in the western portion of Mayland and less frequently in the eastern part of the state.
It is illegal to kill a praying mantis - False
- According to the Entomological Society of America, "There seem to be no federal laws regarding the protection of praying mantids. While states may have laws pertaining to these insects, ESA is unaware of any such laws that exist."
- I also personally contacted the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland Extension service. Both stated that they were unaware of any laws that prohibited the killing of a praying mantis.
Carpenter ants eat wood - False
- Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They actually hollow out wood to make their nests and deposit the wood in piles called frass.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and please feel free to contact Bill if you have any pest issues or concerns.
Researched and written by: Bill McVicker, Owner, Bugs Pray Pest Control