We’re here for you… BugsInTheNews, a project sponsored by EntomoBiotics Inc. in conjunction with the Megatherium Society, is on the Internet for one simple reason, to serve as a trustworthy source of carefully researched, unbiased, and pertinent information regarding human safety issues related to the fields of zoology, entomology, arachnology, and herpetology, along with links to scientific papers on the subject at hand to aid readers in conducting their own research far beyond the materials provided here.
In 2012 we resumed our studies in nematology and, for those entomopathogenic species of nematodes, their symbiotic bacteria as well. We also launched, in 2012, a limited mentoring project designed to help high-school students interested in the biological and botanical sciences.
In 2013 — spurred on by the outstanding research conducted by amateur arachnologist Robert Smith — we delved deeper into the biology of burrowing wolf spiders in Central Texas, and will soon publish an article on an as-yet unidentified species of burrowing wolf spider Mr. Smith is studying in Kempner, Texas.
After expanding our work in nematology for the past several years, we will soon be ready to report on our latest research on the use of entomopathogenic nematodes for controlling native and Formosan subterranean termites. That latter species (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, 1909) has now established a fierce grip on much of Central Texas, and poses an unusually serious threat to the homes it infests. In the papers being readied for publication we will describe how a novel termite interceptor, the TermiteBiotics TIAI-IV™, has proven invaluable in enabling entomopathogenic nematodes to decimate entire termite colonies of native and Formosan termites in the soil — before they infest the homes nearby — even during the hottest periods of the year.
Our work with bed bugs and blood-sucking triatomid bugs in Central Texas occupied much of our time in 2013. Papers on both families of insects, famous for striking fear in the hearts of a growing number of Texans, were published that year and will be expanded in 2014. Because the several species of triatomine bugs — members of the Triatominae subfamily (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) of true bugs — found in Texas, unlike the common bedbug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae: Cimex lectularius), are often endemic occupants of the Texas landscape, their control is directly amenable to the application of habitat modification techniques around the dwellings they infest. The papers on these insects take pains to address the peculiar habitat modifications most appropriate to their effective control.
In 2014 our focus will expand to include more detailed analyses of dermestid beetles and pestiferous mites. About 20% of the calls we receive for bed bug infestations turn out, on inspection, to involve another organism altogether. These include, among others, dermestid beetles (Coleoptera: Dermestidae) from a number of genera, and rodent and bird mites (Mesostigmata: Macronyssidae). Although the dermatological signs and symptoms are similar for all of these organisms, the treatment regimes appropriate to each is markedly different. We are conducting on-going research to find and apply the best means and approaches to deal with these vexing affronts to human comfort, using the least toxic methods and materials available.
As the foregoing illustrates, we strive to shed light on things that affect your peace of mind. With your help, we’ll continue to obtain and pass on answers to your questions on these subjects into the future.
How we began…
The original Bugs In The News website was created in the 1990′s, as BugsInTheNews.com, to serve as a repository of information on bugs and animals found in Texas, and the products and methods used to control and mitigate them. Our focus has always been on designing, developing, and using non-toxic, least-toxic, low-impact, and reduced-impact products and methods for pest management projects. Out of that focus came what we initially called IRIM-P.A.™: Integrated Reduced-Impact Methods to achieve Pest Avoidance. Today we call the advanced version of that methodology IRIM-PAHM™: Integrated Reduced-Impact Methods to achieve Pest Avoidance thru Habitat Modification. Our emphasis on mechanical and natural habitat modifications has enabled us to significantly reduce, and in many cases eliminate, the need for pesticides altogether.
Over the years, the purview of our flagship website has broadened to include more and more organisms, including botanicals. Today it includes all living things in the animal kingdom. Its geography — originally limited to Texas — has expanded to all of North America, though much of that work has applications worldwide. Eventually, with help from professional and amateur biologists, entomologists, arachnologists, herpetologists, and botanists from all over the planet, we hope to include Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Botany, one of the oldest of sciences, has lagged behind the animal sciences in many ways, and that is of great concern to us. Plants are as important as animals — most pharmaceuticals are, or were originally, derived from botanical sources — but because they seem less “threatening” we don’t pay them the attention they deserve. Much needs to be learned about our botanicals, so — to spur that learning onward — our sister website, Buds In The News.info was created. Though still in its infancy, it has enormous potential.
Both of these websites now use a new theme and format. Navigation is simplified by providing, on the left-hand side of each page, a listing of the taxonomical categories of the organisms described in the posted articles. Placing your cursor over a category pops up a descriptive balloon. Clicking on a category automatically takes you to a listing of the posts under that category; clicking on a title will take you to that posting.
The information provided here is regularly updated. It is intended to cover each topic in considerable background detail, not just a surface skim, yet devoid of the rampant speculation too often found in journalistic science today. Some of these topics affect your life in serious, earth-shattering ways. We strive to provide truthful details, as free of sensationalism and bias as possible, in a form that enables you to become better educated and better prepared. Authors of specific articles are encouraged to add personal insights, to round out the topical information and keep things grounded in the real world, so long as those insights are helpful and germane to the thrust of the report.
By ensuring that the background details in our articles are bolstered with contemporary accounts, supplied by viewers and contributors, the reader benefits by reading about the ways these topics impact them and their world. Whenever possible, despite a limited budget, we conduct field trips and interview laypeople and authorities alike, to document and verify the information our viewers send in. And, through it all, you — the ultimate beneficiary — receive free and unlimited access to all the information we provide.
We cannot do this work without your help. The most important contributions come from those who send us photographs and textual descriptions of the organisms they encounter in their everyday lives. We study those inputs, expand our knowledge, and post what we learn.
And, yes… we’ve learned a lot, thanks to you. But we have so much more to learn and do.
Bugsinthenews began with nothing but a dream, and with your help we’ve managed to scratch the surface on a lot of important subjects. During 2010 alone over 3,000 reports and inquiries came in from viewers with urgent questions concerning spiders, snakes, stinging caterpillars, and other organisms. In 2011 that number increased by more than 50%. A similar increase was expected in 2012, and — as of the end of May — that expectation has been met, if not exceeded.
The temptation to advertise for others, as a way to defray expenses, is ever present. Actually, these days advertising is an essential means of keeping a project like BugsInTheNews afloat. So, yes, we do accept a limited amount of advertising on our pages. It helps pay the bills without requiring us to beg for donations from our viewers. Still, to keep our sites uncluttered and unbiased, and to avoid sensationalizing as a means of increasing viewership, we do our best not to host grossly unrelated ads, and we never host ads with pop-up or drop-down windows. We feel you shouldn’t have to trim away in-your-face advertising, and you should not have to view advertisements as a condition of reading the content of our pages. Nor, for that matter, should you be confronted with embedded, obtrusive, unrelated ad-links (though we have — perhaps foolishly — embedded ads for on-line educational institutions that may be only indirectly related to the topic at hand; when those ads expire they will not be renewed). We view with alarm the rise of huge, well-financed Internet data collection organizations who have little or no regard for the privacy of individuals, and shrink from cooperating in their development. For that reason we have chosen not to participate in the advertising programs of any of today’s data-compiler organizations. Privacy, which today seems to have become an archaic concept, retains its primacy with us. So, when you come across an imbedded ad link, for advertisers who supply products, educational materials, and services that are at least indirectly related to the goals of Bugsinthenews, smile and thank those advertisers for helping us stay on the Internet. If, in the process, you find any of those ads offensive or annoying, please let Jerry know (his e-mail address is provided at the foot of this page for your convenience). Your opinions matter to us, and yes, we will always give serious consideration to your concerns.
We consistently refuse to accept government grants and subsidies, not just because of the strings attached, but also because we feel government shouldn’t be allocating taxes to shore up research projects that can and ought to be supported, fully, by the very public that those projects benefit. Government is no less biased than industry, but has its own agendas, often replete with unhealthy influences that smother honesty and candor.
We also advertise the services provided by our sponsor, EntomoBiotics Inc., and the habitat modifiers and other products our sponsor develops and markets to home and business owners. Our services and products are designed to help establish and maintain pesticide free environments that do not attract or nurture harmful or annoying pests, and we regard that work as our most important contribution to the health and well-being of our viewers. And yes, we do accept donations from viewers who feel the need to contribute to the work we do here.
Mostly, though, we rely on you, our public, whose questions we answer–or at least try to answer — to judge us, and help us, as we seek to do a better job every day. Where you see lack, imagine how we can improve, then candidly inform us of your opinions and recommendations.
Thanks for everything! We couldn’t have done anything in the past without you. Inasmuch as the past is prologue, let’s make this the best year ever.
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