Daily Archives: July 7, 2017

Is Williamson County the Australia of America? Williamson County’s Most Feared Bugs

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department

Someone told me they thought that living in Williamson County is like living in the “Australia of America.”  Just like in Australia, there are many strange bugs here as compared to the rest of the world.  This is most certainly an overstatement, but due to our mild winters, Williamson County does have significant insect concerns.  Some insects are mostly nuisances, such as Japanese Beetles munching on tree leaves.  Other insects, however, can cause significant injury or damage.  What follows are five of the bugs of Tennessee that register higher degrees of fear among residents of our area.  We will go from number five to number one.

Numbers Five and Four:  Hard working but harmful Beetles or Borers.  Most give little thought to various beetles that fly about our area, but those who manage our forests and those who love beautiful landscape trees soon learn to respect the menace that certain beetles pose.    Landowners and cities see some of their favorite, older shade trees die within three years after being attacked by the Southern Pine Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer.

5. Emerald Ash Borers (EAB)

Adults are dark green and fly in Tennessee especially in May and June.  They spend the rest of the year as larvae eating away under the bark of ash trees, leading to the decline and death of their host tree.  EABs emerge from the trees as adults and leave a small, distinctive D-shaped hole in the bark.

4. The Southern Pine Beetle

It is native to our area, causing extensive damage to pine trees during times when its population expands.   When Tennessee’s southern pine beetle population gradually began to build in 1998, the beetles killed close to 350,000 acres and $358 million of pine in the years that followed.

3. Imported Fire Ants (IFA)

Lest the reader think I am exaggerating, I will quote from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture regarding this newcomer to the county which has a low tolerance for humans.

Imported Fire Ants (IFA) were accidentally introduced into the United States from South America, beginning in about 1918, and have spread to many counties in Tennessee, including Williamson County….   Imported Fire Ants are very aggressive when disturbed and cause a painful sting that produces a small white pustule about 8-24 hours following the sting.

Fire ant colonies build mounds that may be 10 inches or more in height, 15 inches or more in diameter, and 3 feet or more in depth. ….

Imported Fire Ants cause harm and economic losses in a variety of ways.  Stings from fire ants inflict intense pain to millions of Americans each year with thousands requiring medical treatment.  A small number of people develop a life-threatening allergic reaction to IFA stings.  The number of human fatalities resulting from IFA stings is not known due to lack documentation.  However, there have been confirmed deaths due to IFA in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  Imported Fire Ants also attack and kill domestic animals and wildlife as well as destroy seedling corn, soybeans, and other crops.  Fire ant mounds can damage farm equipment and lawn mowers.   IFA are attracted to electrical equipment and chew on insulation, resulting in short circuits and interference with switching mechanisms.  Fire ants can shut down air conditioners, traffic signal boxes, and even airport runway lights.  Approximately $2 billion in damage, including costs for insecticide for fire ant suppression and eradication, is caused by IFA in the United States each year.” [https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/article/ag-businesses-ifa]

 

Wiki commons “Face of a southern yellowjacket”

2. Yellowjackets (Paper Wasps, and Hornets runners up)

UT Assistant Professor of Entomology, Karen Vail, tells us:  “Yellowjackets are often considered the most dangerous stinging insects in the United States. They are more unpredictable than honey bees and will sting readily if their nest is disturbed….. During late summer and fall, yellowjacket colonies are near maturity and large numbers of workers forage for food.  Sweets support large populations of foraging

wasps. They are particularly fond of sweets (e.g., fruit, soft drinks, ice cream, beer), but they will also eat meats, potato salad and just about anything we eat.”

Many county residents are unaware of where yellowjackets build their paper nest.  They nest mostly  underground, which makes their presence harder to detect.  They can be highly aggressive and sting multiple times.

 

Public Domain, Wiki

1. The Brown Recluse Spider

The most feared bug of Tennessee as reported by several exterminators is the brown recluse spider.
Most of us are familiar with the Brown Recluse, if not by sight, then certainly by its reputation.  I have unfortunate personal experience with the Brown Recluse, receiving two bites over the years that left the horrendous pain and scars that their bites can sometimes do.

So I am an informal “expert” on the spider, trying to avoid being bitten again.  I even discuss them with our “bug man” exterminator named Joe from All-Pest Solutions, who sprays our house four times a year.   He recently added to my knowledge about the spider when I explained the enormous size of one I saw last week. The “bug man” said that Recluses do get that big, but no bigger.  What I saw was likely a female adult (larger than the males) in her prime (who can give birth to 130 little recluses just like that).  So they will be around.

But the exterminator also gave me some good news.  He said, “Did you know that they can’t bite you without help?  Their mouths are too small.  They have to be mashed or pushed into the skin, most often by ourselves, and then they have the force to bite.”    I asked for clarification, “You mean if one just gets on you, or you hold it in your hand, it can’t bite you?”   “Yes, that’s right.  They have to have help.”  That was news to me, and good to know.

Something else came out about the spider during my second bite (this one to the temple of my head from lying on an old, rolled up blanket for a pillow while camping).  The venom of the Brown Recluse is interesting.  It is only 15% or so actual poison, so it basically tricks the body into turning on itself in reaction.  It is powerful through deception.  Further, unlike the immediately painful and burning bite of the Black Widow spider, the Brown Recluse bite seldom hurts at first.  In fact, the venom, for the first 24 hours,  tends to create a state of euphoria (extreme gladness) in the human victim.  I experienced this very thing.  But afterward, the effects of the tricky venom begin to turn living tissue into dead tissue.  The victim must wait and see just how deep the wound will go.

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Check Out from Total Boox

By Lisa Lombard, Reference Department TBX-log-low-rezTotal Boox is an app that provides another way to read digital books while you are on the go or at home sitting in your favorite reading spot. The app is available for Android, Amazon Kindle and iPad users. Some great features of this app include; no waiting lines, you can read books offline (you only need to be online to download books), there is no return date, and once the book is on your device, it stays on your device until you decide to delete it. So you can keep books on your device for as long as you have the app and read them as many times as you want without having to re-download. Another perk of this app is that if you get a new device all of your books will be automatically downloaded onto that device so you do not have to search for them again. I’m going to take you through the app from start to finish and I hope that you will consider adding this as a way to read more books in the future!

If you need visual help to learn how to use the app you have two options. One option is a user guide located at the bottom of every page under the heading “readers” and shows you how to best use each section (pictures are provided as part of the guide). The other option is a YouTube tutorial.

An important detail is making sure you get the app that is for libraries so you have FREE access to books. Once you have downloaded the app and open it you will be prompted to login. To login make sure you have Williamson County Public Library selected then enter your library card number and pin, the next screen will ask for your email address.

Once you have completed those steps you will be taken to the “home” screen which in this case is the “My Library” page. From here you have two options: you can either click on “Get Books It’s Free!” or the “+” to create a new shelf. By tapping on the “Get Books It’s Free!” iconic book you will be taken to a page that has several options. These options include sections titled “editors’ picks,” “featured authors,” and “just arrived” sections and have several books to browse through by scrolling right to left. By tapping on a book cover you will be given the synopsis of the book along with the option to read it or download the book, by selecting to read, it will automatically open and if you select download the book will be placed on your “My Library” page.

The other ways to find books include the search area (great for if you know the title or author), browsing through the categories tab or browsing through the shelves tab. If you want to search by category you are in luck there is a wide variety of categories to choose from, 28 total. Of those 28 categories, 18 have sub-categories. This is a great way to browse for something if you have a specific idea in mind or you know you want a historical fiction book. The shelves tab is an awesome option for getting a lot of books from specific categories onto your “My Library” page quickly. For example, there is a shelf titled “Great books to take on your next flight.” In this shelf there are a total of 15 books (for right now), a brief description of the type of books in the section, who shared the shelf and when it was last updated. By clicking on the download button all 15 of these books will be available to you with the shelf title on your “My Library” page. None these books are automatically downloaded to your device you still have to click on “read” to have them available to read without the internet.1362333041

Once you have a book open there is a pop up tool bar (tap in the empty area on the bottom of the page) with 5 options at the top: Home, Table of Contents (for the current book), Font size, Browse Bookmarks (for browsing where you have placed bookmarks for the opened book before), and Add a Bookmark. Also to be found when you tap in that empty space is a drag bar that allows you to jump further ahead or behind in the book which is much easier than going page by page.

Back on the “My Library” page you can create your own shelves by moving around the books you have downloaded or selecting “copy” from a book that’s on another shelf and moving it to the desired shelf. You also have the option to delete your books when you desire, all you have to do is tap on the book cover and select the delete option.

While you might not find the most popular books and authors in this app I think it’s worth the time to get to know and it search around, because you will find classics, books in your favorite genre you wouldn’t of normally read and who knows what other good books you might run across. I already have a shelf downloaded and two books ready to read!

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