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Arthropods, including insects, are the most numerous animals on the planet. They existed millions of years before humans and coevolved with them, adapting to the changes that mankind introduced into the environment. The characterization of arthropods as pests concerns the effect they have on health and the economy which varies by culture, aesthetics and personal experiences. The effect of arthropods may be immediate and/or as a result of their activities. Despite the general perception, most arthropods are beneficial and necessary as part of the ecosystem. Ultimately, though it seems we cannot live with them we could not survive without them.

Dangers to public health

Arthropods are responsible for the transmission of microbes that cause disease in humans, of which several are serious, as well as for causing allergies. These happen in ways which include:

  • human contact with arthropod bodies, their moults, droppings, bodily fluids as well as water, food and surfaces contaminated by them.

  • sucking, biting and piercing of human skin.

  • stinging and biting of human skin (associated with the entrance of toxic substances into the human body which can potentially cause allergies, sometimes with deadly results).

  • breathing dust that comes from moults (associated with allergies and asthma).

The pathogens transmitted via arthropods can cause human diseases such as: malaria, salmonellosis, bubonic plague, Lyme’s disease, typhus fever, tularemia, encephalitis, viral diseases, etc. The aforementioned diseases are merely a small example of a far more extensive list and generally refer to transmission of microbes (protozoa, fungi, bacteria) as well as parasites such as nematode worms etc. Arthropods, are also responsible for the transmission of diseases in domestic animals, for example with leishmaniasis (kala-azar). For additional information please see Pest Library section.

Food Damage

Arthropods can damage but can also destroy food and forage at all stages of production, processing, storage, distribution, preparation and trading.

The effect of arthropods in food involves:

  • deterioration due to feeding.

  • contamination with their organic residues and their excretions.

  • transmission of microbes that are not pathogenic (e.g. fungal decomposers of organic matter etc.) but further deplete food.

  • especially in the case of arthropods that transmit pathogenic microbes (e.g. flies, cockroaches, etc) their presence implies a threat to public health and it is unacceptable where there is food. On the contrary, if their presence and their contact with food is determined, it may be necessary to discard the latter.

The inability of determination of the exact location and path followed by arthropods in a place where there is exposed food, may sometimes lead to the rejection of the whole portion or batch, regardless of whether it is truly infected.

Moreover, insects and acari (in various stages of their development) are particularly harmful to crops. They undermine the primary production since they are able to damage all plant parts (such as roots, crops, bark of trees, trunks, stems, leaves, etc.).

Structural and property damage

Arthropods are able to attack any organic material such as: wood, cloth, leather, paper, etc. The damage that they can cause can even be total (ex.: the destruction of wooden buildings from termites and/or other woodworm insects).

Risk to reputation

Infestation from arthropods can damage the reputation of any business. Signs of arthropod activity or existence may cause problems with customers and/or losing them, who subsequently are very likely to communicate information and cause a further decline in clientele. The presence of arthropods often creates problems, not only in relation to customers but also with the employees.

Legislation

The public health legislation relating to arthropods covering health inspections must always be adhered to. In cases of offence the imposition of sanctions is provided. In extreme cases, the suspension of the operating permit is enforced and business owners can be prosecuted.

Control

Defon controls arthropods according to the company’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. This refers to the prevention of their establishment and/or their suppressive control, with physical (mechanical), chemical and biological methods. These methods can be used individually or in combination. For additional information see Defon’s environmentally friendly IPM methodology section.

The transmission of pathogenic microbes by arthropods often requires disinfection to be carried out after pest control. More details on the subject are listed in the Disinfection section.

by the kind permission of Bayer

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta

Characteristics

Over 800,000 different species of insects have been described, some 80% of all animals. Although these vary greatly in size and structure they all possess certain fundamental characters which distinguish them from other animals.

Insects are invertebrates so do not possess backbones and, being jointed in limbs and body, they qualify for the phylum Arthropoda. This includes animals such as shrimps, centipedes and spiders but the insects themselves belong to the Class Insecta.

The earliest known fossil insects date back to the Middle Devonian period some 300 million years ago, whilst winged insects appeared quite suddenly in Carboniferous rocks which are about 250 million years old.

The fundamental characters displayed by all insects to a greater or lesser extent are:

  • Exoskeleton

    A hard chitinous exoskeleton provides support and protection. It is arranged as a series of segments which may total 20 but are usually grouped together and specialised in some way so there appear to be far less.

  • Three Part Body

    The insect's body is divided into three distinct parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen.

    • The head is composed of six segments fused together and bears mouthparts and some sensory organs.

    • The thorax is composed of three segments each bearing a pair of legs and the second and third often bearing a pair of wings. This is the basic pattern but may be modified in some way eg, flies possess only one pair of wings whilst beetles have one pair of functional wings (the hind wings) and have modified forewings which usually cover both the thorax and abdomen and provide protection.

    • The abdomen typically consists of 11 segments but these are often telescoped.

The immature forms of insects, the larvae and pupae, exhibit the same basic characteristics although often in a much simplified form. Thus the eyes and limbs are very simple structures and the wings only exist as buds.

Classification

The existence of an exoskeleton imposes a restriction to growth necessitating moulting if the insect is to grow any bigger. Moulting is therefore a major process in the development of the adult insect. It also enables the insects to be classified according to their life cycle and this can be important when considering control measures. This classification is:

  • Sub-class: Apterygota

    Wingless with no metamorphosis. Moulting will still occur when the adult stage is reached.

    Orders containing insects of public hygiene significance:

    Thysanura - Silverfish and Bristletails

    Collembola - Springtails

  • Sub-class: Pterygota

    'Winged' insects with adults distinct from young and not subject to moulting.

    • Division Exopterygota

      Wings develop externally; they exhibit incomplete metamorphosis with nymphs resembling adults.

      Orders containing insects of public hygiene significance:

      Orthoptera - Crickets etc.

      Dermaptera - Earwigs

      Dictyoptera - Cockroaches

      Tsoptera - Termites

      Psocoptera - Booklice

      Mallophaga - Biting lice

      Anoplura - Sucking lice

      Hemiptera - True Bugs

      Thysanoptera - Thrips

    • Division Endopterygota

      Wings develop internally; they exhibit completed metamorphosis ie there is a dramatic change from egg to adult involving distinct larval and pupal stages.

      Orders containing insects of public hygiene significance:

      Diptera - True flies

      Siphonaptera - Fleas

      Lepidoptera - Moths

      Coleoptera - Beetles

      Hymenoptera - Wasps and ants

Acquisition of pest status

Insects are the most abundant of all land animals and have inhabited every environment except the sea. Their success can be attributed to:

  • Exoskeleton, for protection and efficient water conservation

  • Mobility through crawling and especially flying which helps in the efficient location of food, shelter, breeding sites etc.

  • Complete metamorphosis with larvae specialised for feeding and growing and adults for mating and dispersal. This also enables the forms to occupy different environments which provides greater scope for survival and development.

  • Rapid reproduction enabling rapid exploitation of resources when conditions are favourable.

  • Small size - typically between 0.5-40mm long - facilitating ready exploitation of food and shelter.

  • Adaptable, exhibiting a wide variety of forms suited to the environments in which they live.

Pests can be defined as troublesome or destructive animals. Only about 0.5% of insect species are pests and most of these infest plants and plant materials. Suitable conditions for insect pests are provided wherever crops have been concentrated in the field or store. Man and his environment, including domesticated animals, can also be infested when conditions are right

Insects in the non-agricultural sector are pests because they cause a:

  • Loss of commodities in store.

  • Reduction in the quality of stored commodities through:

    • Direct feeding damage

    • Tainting

    • Physical contamination

    • Secondary effects eg heating of grain

  • Nuisance

  • Health hazard eg:

    • Non-specific vectors of disease

    • Specific vectors of disease

In addition insects may be responsible for allergic reactions, bites or stings whilst an imagined infestation with ectoparasites may lead to the psychological disorder, 'delusory parasitosis'.

by the kind permission of National Pest Management Association

Africanized 'Killer' Bees

Apis mellifera scutellata

Description

Color: Golden-yellow with darker bands of brown.

Legs: 6

Shape: Oval; bee shape

Size: 1/2

Antennae: True

Africanized "killer" bees looks so much like a regular honeybee that the only way to tell the two apart is by measuring their bodies. Africanized bees have different wing measurements than honeybees.

Habits

These bees defend their colony and attack when threatened.

Habitat

Africanized bees have small colonies, so they can build nests in unique places. They have been known to live in tires, crates, boxes, and empty cars.

Threats

Their venom is no more dangerous than regular honeybees-they just tend to attack in greater numbers, which causes more danger to humans.

Prevention

Because of the aggressive nature of these pests and the enormity of their nests, a pest control professional or beekeeper must address an infestation. If you are chased by Africanized honeybees, run in a zig zag pattern and seek shelter in a house or car.

Rodents are the largest group of mammals on the planet with about 2,000 species. Their ability to survive almost any condition and their special adaptability has led them to live outside of their natural habitats, in manmade agricultural, industrial and urban environments. Only few of them are harmful to humans. Examples include mice, rats moles etc. whilst in some countries squirrels also constitute a particular problem that needs to be addressed.

Dangers to public health

Rodents are responsible for the transmission of microbes that cause diseases in humans of which several are serious and potentially fatal.

This is done by direct and indirect ways which include:

  • Bite from rodent to human.
  • Human contact with rodent body, excretions (droppings, urine), body fluids, as well as water, food and surfaces contaminated by them.
  • Transmission of parasites which in turn transmit microbes, cause disease, allergies, etc. such as: lice, fleas, ticks, mites, bed bugs etc.

With the ways listed above, humans can contract: Weil’s disease (leptospirosis), salmonellosis, bubonic plague, typhoid, Lyme’s disease, rickettsia, babesiosis, schistosomiasis, tularemia, encephalitis, viral diseases, etc. The aforementioned diseases are merely a small example of a far more extensive list. Rodents, are also responsible for the transmission of diseases in domestic animals, for example with foot-and-mouth disease. For additional information see Pest Library section.

Food Damage

Rodents can damage food and forage at all stages of production, processing, preparation, storage, distribution and trading.

Damage of food from rodents is caused:

  • Via consumption.
  • Via gnawing, where mechanical damage is done to product and/ or its packaging during their attempt to sharpen their teeth without necessarily consuming at the same time.
  • Via contamination, resulting from their contact and from anywhere there is any trace of their presence such as: hair, droppings, urine and any organic residue.

The inability of determination of the exact location and path followed by rodents in a place where there is exposed food, may sometimes lead to the rejection of the whole portion or batch, regardless of whether it is truly infected.

In all such cases food becomes unsuitable for human consumption due to the risks that threaten public health.

The economic damage relating to food consumption by rodents is important. For example, a small mouse (Mus musculus) has the ability to consume up to 3g of food per day. Therefore, if in a food warehouse there are 500 of such rodents in a year (something that is not so rare), food damage due to consumption will exceed half a tonne. If all the other reasons mentioned above, in which food becomes unsuitable are included, the extend of damage can be multiplied further.

Moreover, rodents are particularly harmful to crops. They undermine the primary production since they are able to damage all plant parts (such as roots, crops, bark of trees, etc.).

Structural and property damage

Rodents gnaw constantly and at anything (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) without necessarily consuming.

For example, this may cause:

  • damage to wires, with consequences such as failures in mechanical equipment, vehicles, electronics, electrical panels, etc. which result in anything, from breakdowns to causing fires.
  • damage to water supplies, gas, etc. since it is known that they gnaw from plastic pipes to lead pipes.
  • damage to furniture, fabrics, etc.
  • damage to building materials such as insulation, plasterboards etc.

It has been observed that in large populations of rodents, the structure of buildings could be compromised due to the excavation of their burrows beneath the foundations.

Risk to reputation

Infestation from rodents can damage the reputation of any business.

Signs of rodent activity or existence may cause problems with customers and/or losing them, who subsequently are very likely to communicate information and cause a further decline in clientele.

The presence of rodents often creates problems, not only in relation to customers but also with the employees.

Legislation

The public health legislation relating to rodents covering health inspections must always be adhered to. In cases of offence the imposition of sanctions is provided. In extreme cases, the suspension of the operating permit is enforced and business owners can be prosecuted.

Control

Defon controls rodents according to the company’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. This refers to the prevention of their establishment and/or their suppressive control, predominately with physical (mechanical) and chemical methods. These methods can be used individually or in combination. For additional information see Defon’s environmentally friendly IPM methodology section.

The transmission of pathogenic microbes by rodents often requires disinfection to be carried out after pest control. More details on the subject are listed in the Disinfection section.

Did You Know...?

In ideal conditions, two rats need 18 months to gain over a million descendants.

Some bird species have adapted to live close to humans taking advantage of urban, semi-urban, as well as agricultural environments. They are usually popular with people, however, under certain conditions they can be harmful and require attention. Along with birds, bats are examined as well although these are mammals. Ιn certain countries, including Greece, bats are protected by law due to their decline in numbers. They should not be tampered with and their removal can only happen under special circumstances with permission granted by the relevant authorities.

Dangers to public health

Birds, directly or indirectly, are responsible for transmitting many microbes that cause the onset of serious diseases in humans (more than 60) some of which are potentially fatal.

This is done by:

  • Human contact with bird body, plumage, droppings, as well as water, food and surfaces contaminated by them.
  • Inhalation of fecal dust containing amongst others, fungal spores and bacteria.
  • Arthropods: mosquitoes, acari (ticks, acari that cause allergies, etc.), bedbugs, etc.

In relation to the above, humans can contract: histoplasmosis, psittacosis, candidiasis, encephalitis, salmonellosis, gastroenteritis (from E.coli bacteria), viral diseases, rabies (bats), etc. The aforementioned diseases are merely a small example of a far more extensive list. For additional information please see Pest Library section.

Food Damage

Food damage from birds is usually limited to the primary production stage. Birds will frequently attack arboricultures, granaries, vineyards and generally where crops are produced on open-field cultivations. The result of this activity is often the reduction of the amount of harvested product.

Structural and property damage

There are two main methods by which birds cause damage.

  • damage to wires, with consequences such as failures in mechanical equipment, vehicles, electronics, electrical panels, etc. which result in anything, from breakdowns to causing fires.
  • Initially mentioned, is the corrosive effect of their droppings on surfaces of concrete, rocks, metals, paint, etc. Therefore, deteriorations are observed in building facades, statues, vehicles, etc
  • Subsequently mentioned, is the case of the blockages caused by their nesting but also by the accumulation of their droppings. Birds tend to get established on surfaces which protrude from buildings such as sills, gutters, air conditioning units etc. as these tend to replicate their natural habitat. Especially in the case of air conditioning, the establishment of nests and the accumulation of droppings pose a fire hazard.

Birds also cause major trouble for flight safety, especially when located in large flocks on or near airport runways.

Risk to reputation

Whilst birds are almost everywhere, it is the mess and droppings derived from them which can damage the reputation of any business.

Signs of bird activity (ex.: excretions, organic residues) may cause problems with customers and/or losing them, who subsequently are very likely to communicate information and cause a further decline in clientele.

The presence of birds often creates problems, not only in relation to customers but also with the employees.

Legislation

The public health legislation relating to the problems caused by the presence of birds, covering health inspections must always be adhered to. In cases of offence the imposition of sanctions is provided. In extreme cases, the suspension of the operating permit is enforced and business owners can be prosecuted.

Control

In most countries including Greece, birds are protected and treatments that can hurt or kill them are prohibited. In compliance with the relative legislation regarding their control, Defon’s treatments are limited to repellency according to the company’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. This refers to the prevention of their establishment and/or their repellency, predominately with physical (mechanical) and chemical methods. These methods can be used individually or in combination. For additional information see Defon’s environmentally friendly IPM methodology section.

The transmission of pathogenic microbes by birds into areas they were previously established often requires disinfection to be carried out after repellency. More details on the subject are listed in the Disinfection section.