Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Southern House Mosquito Bites After Dark In Residential Areas Where They Can Transmit Multiple Diseases To Humans

Mosquitoes are becoming more abundant in southern Arizona, and so are human cases of mosquito-borne disease. The most significant mosquito-borne disease in the state, the west Nile virus, was virtually unheard of in the southwest 15 years ago, but now, mosquitoes are transmitting this disease to numerous residents of Maricopa and Pima Counties. Unfortunately, mosquitoes infected with the west Nile virus may be growing in number at higher elevations in more northern areas of the state, as infected mosquitoes were collected from Flagstaff less than two weeks ago. The last human cases of west Nile in Flagstaff were reported back in 2010, but another batch of west Nile-infected mosquitoes were collected in Flagstaff three months ago, indicating that the local population is at an increased risk of contracting the infection this year. Culex quinquefasciatus is one mosquito species that can transmit west Nile to humans, and this species thrives within urban and suburban areas where it breeds in stagnant water sources found in residential yards.

Culex quinquefasciatus is more commonly known as the “southern house mosquito,” and this species can be identified by the five lines that adorn its abdomen. However, identifying this species by physical features is both difficult and unnecessary, as southern Arizona residents know this species as the mosquitoes that frequently inflict bites after the sun goes down. This mosquito can also be identified readily by the particularly loud buzzing sound that it produces. This buzzing sound contributes to the species’ reputation as a nuisance pest in and around households, but this species’ is most notable for its ability to transmit diseases from birds to humans. In addition to the west Nile virus, southern house mosquitoes also transmit St. Louis encephalitis and other encephalitis diseases in humans. These mosquitoes even transmit a parasite that causes heartworm in dogs. Southern house mosquitoes are only able to survive due to the ease with which they locate stagnant water sources in human populated areas. Removing containers that have collected rainwater and reducing the amount of water used to feed lawn grass can go a long way at reducing the southern house mosquito population in neighborhoods and parks in the state.

Do you recall sustaining mosquito bites after dark?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Aggressive Are Paper Wasp Species In Arizona?

How Aggressive Are Paper Wasp Species In Arizona? Should Their Nests Be Removed From Properties? How Can Their Nests Be Identified?

When most people see a wasp or yellow jacket, they immediately turn in the opposite direction and flee from the notoriously aggressive insects in order to avoid getting a painful sting, which can become lethal if the person happens to be allergic. Arizona has its fair share of these dreaded, stinging pests. Paper wasps in particular are quite common throughout the state, with species of this type of wasp including yellow and brown paper wasps, western paper wasp, European paper wasps, and Navajo paper wasps. Just how dangerous are they, though, and how should residents handle their presence?

Paper wasps are an average of 1 inch in length, and come in various colors depending on the species, but most of the southwestern species are varying shades of brown and yellow. Their long and slender bodies are easy to spot, with yellow paper wasps standing out due to their bright yellow bodies, contrasted with their dark wings. Navajo paper wasps are instead a deep chocolate-brown color, with only the end of their abdomen being colored yellow. Their nests are noticeably smaller than the nests of yellow jackets, containing no more than 250 individual wasps. They build their nests under suitably protected spots such as the rafters of homes and buildings, under eaves, in attics, or under tree or shrub branches.

Paper wasps are mostly a nuisance to homeowners when they nest in or near said homes. Compared to other wasps, paper wasps are actually quite docile and rarely aggressive, but they are still protective of their nests and will go on the attack, stinging perceived intruder when they sense too much movement near the nest. This often happens when people are trying to work in their garden or prune shrubs and other plants in their back or front yard landscapes. When people try to prune a shrub that a paper wasp nest happens to be hidden under, the wasps will send out several comrades to sting the threat in defense of their nest. Stings can be painful, resulting in pain and swelling around the sting, but sensitive individuals may have a more serious reaction, requiring them to get medical attention. In light of these possible dangers, any paper wasp nest/s found inside or near a home should be removed by a pest control professional.

Have you ever found a paper wasp nest in or near your home?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Medical Professionals Are Perplexed Over The Massive Bug Bite Injury That A Chandler Man Sustained At His Home

Medical Professionals Are Perplexed Over The Massive Bug Bite Injury That A Chandler Man Sustained At His Home

Residents of Arizona are surrounded by arthropods that can inflict dangerous bites or stings. The amount of arthropod species in Arizona that are capable of sending humans to the hospital are too numerous to be named here, but some species include harvester ants, striped-bark scorpions, western black widows, Africanized honey bees, yellow jackets and three recluse spider species have been documented in the state. These recluse spider species include the desert recluse, the Arizona recluse and the Apache recluse, but these spiders, while venomous, maintain a habitat only in wild areas that are not populated by humans. The highly venomous harvester ant species is also not often found within residential yards, but evenommations have occurred in response to humans stepping on their nesting mounds while hiking.

The most medically significant arthropods in Arizona include airborne insects, namely mosquitoes, but stinging airborne insects are particularly dangerous, as they attack in swarms that see victims sustain numerous stings. Nearly all wild honey bees in Arizona have become “Africananized” through interbreeding, and multiple yellow jacket species often swarm residential areas during the fall. This makes bees and yellow jackets the deadliest of all arthropods in Arizona. However, not long ago an Arizona man sustained either a bite or sting from an arthropod that caused a massive injury unlike anything doctors had ever seen, and to this day, the identity of the species that bit the man remains a mystery.

Back in July of 2017, a resident of Chandler, Thomas Jay, had been taking out his garbage when he felt a sudden “pinch” on his arm. Jay immediately brushed the bug off his arm in response to the sudden pain, but unfortunately, he did not get a good look at the arthropod specimen. The injury inflicted by the bug started as a small red circle, but within hours several large purple bruises appeared on his arm. Jay visited two urgent care facilities, but doctors were baffled over the symptoms, and were not able to diagnose his condition, as his left arm looked as though it had been repeatedly run over by a truck. All medical professionals were unable to provide even an educated guess as to which arthropod species may have inflicted the bite, but Jay’s wife believes that a specimen from the Solifugae order of arachnids inflicted the bite. In Arizona, these arachnids are commonly encountered in and around homes, and they can be intimidating due to their large size and appearance, which resembles a cross between a spider and a scorpion. These arachnids are frequently referred to as “camel spiders,” and while they do possess pinching mouthparts, they do not carry venom, and they rarely inflict bites to humans.

Since the specimen was found on trash, do you believe that Jay was bitten by a camel spider that may have transmitted bacteria into his arm that caused the bruising?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Bed Bugs Rapidly Adapt To Survive Insecticides, And How The Pest Control Industry Has Mastered Bed Bug Control

Bed bug infestation cases have been increasing rapidly all around the world, especially in the United States. Bed bugs were nearly eradicated during the middle part of the last century, but the pests reemerged around the turn of the millenium. Bed bug infestations are notorious for being difficult to eradicate, and infestations have forced people to discard valuable infested items, such as mattresses, bedding, clothing and furniture. Furthermore, bed bug infestations are often harrowing for those who experience them, and lasting psychological trauma can result from living with infestations. While bed bug infestations continue to be a challenge to eradicate today, recently developed integrated pest management strategies have proven effective at ridding homes of bed bug pests.

The bed bugs that exist today are very different from the bed bugs that your elders may have encountered several decades ago, as modern bed bugs have evolved physical features that make them particularly difficult to exterminate. An overreliance on insecticides for bed bug extermination in the past has made bed bugs resistant to most traditional insecticides. Bed bugs are resilient creatures, and much like how cockroaches evolved to withstand insecticides, modern bed bugs possess bodily features that protect the pests from the toxins in insecticide solutions. For example, genetic researchers have discovered 14 genetic mutations in modern bed bugs that all allow them to survive insecticides. These mutated genes are associated with the bed bug exoskeletons. Specifically, these mutations made bed bug exoskeletons thicker, thereby preventing insecticides from reaching nerve cells.

Amazingly, rapid adaptations of this sort have never been documented as occurring in any other insect pest species. Today, however, a number of different methods are undertaken to eradicate bed bugs from homes. These methods include vacuuming, washing bedding at a high temperature and using steam or heat treatments. Over-the-counter bed bug control products exist, but research has found them to be ineffective, but pest control professionals are licensed to use specialized chemicals that successfully kill bed bug pests. For serious bed bug infestations, a combination of non-chemical treatments, like heat, and a minimal use of insecticide effectively and permanently eradicates active bed bug infestations from homes.

Have you ever attempted to eradicate bed bugs on your own with over-the-counter insecticide?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

What You Need To Know To Minimize The Risk Of Sustaining Bites From West Nile-Infected Mosquitoes

What You Need To Know To Minimize The Risk Of Sustaining Bites From West Nile-Infected Mosquitoes

As many Arizona residents may have already learned, the west Nile virus is now a permanent component of southern Arizona’s ecosystem, making the diseased insects particularly prevalent around residential and urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Last May, state officials collected 87 mosquito specimens carrying the virus, which is up from a mere seven samples found in the same area of Phoenix last year. Unfortunately, the west Nile virus is not the only mosquito-borne disease to fear in Arizona, as officials also collected 53 specimens that were carrying St. Louis Encephalitis. This figure is up from only two cases of the disease found this time last year. The first west Nile disease case of the year in Arizona was confirmed last February in Maricopa county, and the mosquito season lasts from May through October in the state, so mosquito activity is not yet at its peak. In addition to this case, another west Nile disease case has likely infected a resident of Pima County. Needless to say, mosquito bites are of greater concern than ever before in Arizona. However, there are plenty of precautions that residents can take to prevent bites.

The west Nile virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito species, which is now abundant in southern Arizona. This particular mosquito species relies almost exclusively on standing water sources located in residential and urban areas in order to breed. Yards that contain an abundance of stagnant water sources will certainly see an abundance of mosquitoes. Removing standing water from residential yards will keep these mosquitoes away from human-populated areas and will also decrease the overall population size of the species. Even containers as small as a bottle cap can hold a sufficient amount of water for larval development. It is also important for residents to apply mosquito repellent before setting foot outdoors, especially when planning to remain outdoors for an extended period of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using repellents that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Products that contain DEET and are designed to repel Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are the most important aspects of an effective mosquito repellent.

Do you worry about sustaining bites from disease-carrying mosquitoes around your home?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Spines Of Buckmoth Caterpillars Cause Extremely Painful Stings Which Can Land People In The Hospital

Venomous caterpillar species can be found all over the United States. Some of the most commonly encountered species include tussock moth-caterpillars, flannel moth-caterpillars, saddleback moth-caterpillars, asp caterpillars and buckmoth caterpillars. Several venomous caterpillar species have been documented as inhabiting the Sonoran Desert region of southern Arizona, but buckmoth caterpillars are the most frequently encountered venomous caterpillar species in the state. These caterpillars possess numerous venomous “spines” that protrude from their body, and simply touching a specimen will cause these spines to become stuck in the skin where it continually releases venom. These spines are called “urticating hairs,” and they should only be removed from the skin with tape, as using fingers to pull out the hairs may squeeze more venom into the bloodstream, which intensifies the pain sensation. Unfortunately, these caterpillars often become abundant in residential yards where people often sustain stings while performing yard work.

Around 23 buckmoth caterpillar species have been documented in the southwest US, and these species are around 2 inches in length, and the exterior color of buckmoth caterpillars vary depending on the species. One of the most commonly encountered buckmoth caterpillar species in Arizona is named Hemileuca juno, and these caterpillars are often found grouped together on a variety of common tree species where they feed on leaves. It is not uncommon for buckmoth caterpillars to land on humans after falling from trees, and when this occurs, envenomation almost always results. Another buckmoth caterpillar species in the state, Hemileuca oliviae, dwells within grass where humans often sustain stings while walking. The venom of buckmoth caterpillars usually causes inflammatory dermatitis, and since the human body recognizes the venom as a foregin substance, allergic reactions sometimes result from stings. Most sting cases do not result in hospitalizations, but several cases of buckmoth caterpillar spines making contact with the eyes has resulted in serious medical consequences.

Do you believe that you have spotted a buckmoth caterpillar before?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

What Attracts Spiders Into Homes? And How Residents Can Prevent Spiders From Setting Up Camp In A Home?

Many Arizona residents have learned from experience that warm spring weather tends to bring spiders of all sorts into homes. The reason for this trend is no mystery, as many people are aware that web-spinning spiders prey on flying insects, such as mosquitoes and common houseflies. Several flying insect species become abundant in urban and suburban areas come spring, and spiders naturally gravitate to areas where they can find food. In other words, as the flying insect population increases in residential areas, so do spider populations.

While spiders may be intimidating to look at, their mosquito, gnat and fly prey are far more dangerous to humans. For example, many common urban fly species, such as houseflies, are well known to spread numerous diseases to humans due to their filthy breeding and feeding habits. In addition to flies, urban mosquitoes have recently brought the west Nile virus into Maricopa County where the disease is now a permanent part of southern Arizona’s ecosystem. The last few years have seen urban mosquitoes in southern Arizona skyrocket in numbers, and this year many residents have reported finding mosquitoes within their home. Therefore, it should not be surprising to find an unusually high number of spiders within homes in the region. In fact, spiders perform a free pest control service by feeding on airborne fly pests around homes.

Luckily, very few spider species in southern Arizona are known for inflicting potentially dangerous bites. Only a small number of spider species in the region produce venom that can trigger severe allergic reactions. However, spiders can be a source of anxiety when they are frequently found within homes, and abundant indoor spider webs can become a nuisance. In order to prevent spiders from inhabiting a home, it is often necessary to first have a home inspected for insect pests that may be attracting spiders indoors. Spiders tend to remain in cluttered areas that are typically avoided by humans. Simply dusting curtains, ceiling fans, skylights, doorway entrances and areas behind furniture will help to keep spiders from becoming indoor pests.

Have you found any spiders within your home this summer?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

There are two drywood termite species in Arizona that are considered to be of major economic importance. The most destructive drywood termite species in the state is known as the dark western drywood termite, and the other is the light western drywood termite, which is also known as the southern drywood termite. Drywood termite infestations are difficult to prevent, detect and treat because, unlike subterranean termites that infest homes from the soil, drywood termites infest structures while they swarm. Therefore, drywood termites can start an infestation in any area of a home, including wood located beneath shingles. After drywood termite swarmers (alates) infest external wood sources on a home they often tunnel their way into internal structural woods.

While subterranean termites infest structural wood around a home’s foundation before possibly moving to higher points, drywood termite infestations can occur in areas of a home where infested wood cannot be accessed. There is little a homeowner can do to prevent drywood termite infestations, but using chemically treated and/or pressure treated wood as lumber to build a home can effectively repel drywood termites for a period of time. There exists several ways in which a home is treated for a drywood termite infestation, and while all commonly used methods are effective at eliminating infestations, each method has its pros and cons.

The most popular method of treating drywood termite infestations is full structure fumigation. This method is especially necessary when a pest control professional cannot easily access infested areas of a home, or when an infested home is hosting multiple colonies that may not all be accounted for. The only drawback to fumigation is that it does not prevent future infestations. Another method involves heating a home to 124 degrees for a period of at least 30 minutes. This method is preferred by some, but whole structure heat treatments may damage certain items, but simply removing such items, like vinyl records, will prevent unwanted damage. Researchers are currently exploring biological drywood termite control agents in an effort to develop an optimal form of drywood termite control.

Have you ever needed a fumigation?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

Arizona is home to some of the largest sized centipede species in the world. The giant desert centipede in Arizona grows to be six to eight inches in length, and the common desert centipede grows to be between four and five inches in length. The giant desert centipede can be recognized for its black head and orange tail, while the smaller variety is usually tan to brown in color. While these two centipede species inflict venomous and very painful bites, bites rarely cause serious reactions. Unlike the common house centipede, which is often encountered in homes all over the United States, desert centipedes are not chronic home-invaders in Arizona. That being said, large desert centipedes have emerged from sink and shower drain within houses. While this claim is argued on many websites, two entomologists, Richard Fagerlund and Johnna Lachnit, have stated that centipedes may enter homes through drains after invading septic tanks.

Although desert centipedes do not invade homes in the southwest as often as house centipedes, many residents of the region have found large desert centipedes indoors, particularly in beds. One desert-dwelling resident described a situation in which a large centipede emerged from his kitchen sink while washing dishes. He claimed that the specimen was around six inches, which he was able to determine easily after the centipede bared its entire body on one of his dinner plates. Another resident claimed that a large centipede crawled up her leg after it had emerged from her bathtub drain while showering. The two above named entomologists claim that centipedes can enter septic tanks before invading homes through drains. These two entomologists recommend covering indoor drains with commercially available drain covers, and if these are not on hand, placing a zip-lock bag over drains will suffice. It is also important to run hot water before retiring to bed each night, as nocturnal centipedes may emerge from drains before invading other areas of a home while residents sleep.

Have you ever witnessed an arthropod emerge from an indoor drain?