Regardless if you’re fluent in biblical speak, I don’t know many people who haven’t at least heard about the great plagues in Egypt written about in the old testament of the Bible. There were 10 plagues sent onto the land back then and 4 of them were direct pest infestations while 3 others were most likely horrible bi-products from them. Frogs, gnats, flies and locusts were all sent when Pharaoh refused to listen and let the people of Israel go as Moses asked. These plagues covered the land, destroyed food supplies and goods and caused severe distress for the people at that time (oddly enough not the Israelites-hmmm).
Now having a billion frogs hopping about or hordes of locust filling the sky would be bad enough but the secondary effects from these pests also counted as plagues were equally devastating and are as follows; The flies were most likely stable flies known to carry an ancient disease called “Glanders” which causes boils. Boils was the 6th plague. The gnats also referred to as lice at the time caused African Horse Sickness and Blue Tongue which killed the livestock in the 3rd plague. Micro organisms in locust droppings can be lethal and in famines of those days it was custom to give the oldest child a double portion of food in a sort of self preservation theory- I guess. In this case it was a toxic meal and thus the last plague was death as a result of eating contaminated foods caused by insects. So in essence 7 out of the 10 plagues were pest related but here we are some 5 or 6 thousand years later and I’m wondering.
Are We Being Set Up For Another Super Plague Of Pests In Our Day And Time?
I say this even though being in the business I know things in nature (including bugs) are cyclical. For the past few years we haven’t had much of a flea problem around here but suddenly this year we are getting frantic callers infested with the hopping menace almost everyday. Ticks were outrageous last year and the year before but so far at this time things seem just about normal. Mice, rats, mosquitoes and the normal (what I call normal) range of pests do this cycle of light and heavy fluctuation all the time. Sometimes weather plays a key role or other environmental factors but whatever the case, it has been repetitive and predictable. Keen pest control companies jump on this normal change all the time for profits. Just pay attention to the TV and internet ads and see what they’re pushing and you can bet that’s the pest that is raising it’s ugly head most. But while this seems par for the course there are other pests making headlines as of late that really haven’t followed this ebb and flow cycle and as a matter of fact seem only to be increasing come rain or shine.
The Perfect Storm
I suppose you’d have to have been living under a rock the last few years to NOT have heard about bed bugs and this world wide phenomenon that some say is an epidemic. This bug was almost extinct in the U.S. for all practical purposes but now you hear reports of schools, libraries, trains, buses, restaurants, hospitals, storage facilities, fire house’s and just about anywhere imaginable having been plagued with this tiny blood sucker. Billions of dollars are being spent each year on this one pest alone and yet there seems no end in sight. Last year also brought us a huge explosion of stink bugs which made the summer miserable for much of the North Eastern States. Stink bugs have not been this bad in any recent memory and I’m sure more than one wedding or two had stories to tell about guests swatting at the swarm of bugs while vows were said as well as other outdoor activities being curtailed such as concerts and athletic events. Almost every snowbird client of ours who traveled by car or camper brought back stink bugs to Florida and we’ve done several jobs on this up until now seldom seen pest.
Not only the sudden rise of certain pests seems to be a problem but the rapid demise of others could be just as devastating. Bees that are so vital to our food production and ecological balance are in a major decline and no one seems to have the definitive answer why. Meanwhile killer bees are poised to take their place and pose huge physical threat as they spread like wildfire further north each year. Bats too, are disappearing and while that may seem like a good thing to some I’m sure they’d change their minds once mosquito populations EXPLODE without this hungry check and balance to keep them down. Add to this the 13 year cicada poised to emerge filling the air with it’s non stop noise and thick meaty winged body, ants spinning out of control in Texas and California where a colony of just a million would be a welcomed relief, formosan termites aka the super termite finally re-established after being spread out further by hurricane Katrina and it seems to me that we might just have a front row seat to a brewing catastrophe.
Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories per say (except the tubes in the wall Kabul-) but I do like to think I learn from past events and the history of mistakes gone by. Blame this combination of surges of certain pests and diminishing of others with all the associated problems on whatever you care to but I’m inclined to invoke the old adage;
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (maybe it’s time we start listening again?)