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Avoiding Issues With Indoor Insect Pests Means Becoming A Good Housekeeper And Handyman

Avoiding Issues With Indoor Insect Pests Means Becoming A Good Housekeeper And Handyman

Modern pest management focuses more on the prevention of insect pest infestations rather than eradicating existing infestations. When homeowners keep their indoor living space sanitary and free from structural defects, insect infestations are highly unlikely to occur. Generally, insect pests prefer to remain within their natural outdoor habitat, but they will invade homes when indoor conditions are more hospitable than their natural habitat. Homes contain all the resources that most insect pest species need to survive, such as food, water, shelter, and agreeable temperatures. This is why homeowners and apartment tenants should learn to be conscientious housekeepers, and if possible, knowledgeable of common home repair techniques.

It should be no surprise to anyone that unsanitary homes are particularly vulnerable to insect pest infestations. Homes that contain piles of dirty dishes, overflowing garbage bins, empty soda cans, food crumbs, pets’ bodily waste, piles of dirty laundry, clogged drains, and improperly stored foods attract a variety of insect pest species. The most common insect pests that thrive within unsanitary homes include several cockroach species, filth flies, ants, gnats, midges, mosquitoes and wasps. Also, failure to keep stored food items and pet food properly sealed will invite a variety of pests of stored food products, including Indian meal moths, black carpet beetles and a variety of larval moth species.

Another essential form of pest infestation prevention involves the removal of clutter that provides insect pests with abundant forms of shelter where they can easily remain hidden from a home’s occupants. Insect pests like bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, pantry pets, clothes moths, and although they are technically arachnids, spiders and scorpions, particularly black widows and Arizona bark scorpions, rely on indoor clutter for successfully maintaining a presence within homes. Also, many insect pests, like termites, silverfish, ants and cockroaches, prefer to dwell in dark and moist conditions where they can remain obscured from human view. This makes homes with plumbing leaks, defective gutters, and rainwater leaks particularly attractive to insect pests.

Could you do more to make your home less inviting to insect pests?

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Why Cockroaches Are Sometimes Found In Toilets, Bathtubs And Sinks

Why Cockroaches Are Sometimes Found In Toilets, Bathtubs And Sinks

The relatively mild winter climate and mountainous landscapes in southern Arizona make the region an ideal place to live for many people. Unfortunately, Arizona is also home to a large number of cockroach species that invade houses where they often establish a sizable infestation. The most common cockroach pest species worldwide can all be found in Arizona, including American, Oriental and German cockroaches. A few other species, like the desert cockroach, maintain a habitat solely within the desert southwest, and other species in the state, such as brown-banded, Turkestan and Surinam cockroaches, live in habitats that are limited to the southern US.

Cockroaches have adapted to living within human dwellings, and they are capable of exploiting a variety of access points in order to invade houses. This is especially true when it comes to domestic cockroach species, like German and brown-banded cockroaches, that dwell primarily within structures. The peridomestic cockroach species, the 2 inch American cockroach, is even capable of traveling through sewage pipes in order to enter houses through drains, and once inside, cockroaches expertly navigate indoor areas to gather food and maintain a safe shelter. Despite being well adapted to thriving indoors, many residents have found cockroaches struggling to escape toilet bowels, bathtubs and sinks.

As anyone can understand, people are perplexed upon finding cockroaches in their toilet. This sort of discovery begs the question as to how cockroaches can wind up in a toilet. Finding cockroaches in a sink makes more sense, as sinks often contain food scraps that cockroaches seek, but roaches are often found in bathtubs and sinks that are completely clean. The cockroaches found in toilets, sinks and tubs are most likely Oriental cockroaches. These cockroaches are not capable of flight and they move slowly and sluggishly. Oriental cockroaches cannot climb vertical surfaces well, and when they fall into sinks, tubs and toilets, they are unable to escape due to the smooth surface. Since cockroaches prefer moist conditions, it is not surprising that they often gravitate into bathrooms, and while finding roaches in a toilet may be perplexing, a toilet is probably the best place to find cockroaches within a home.

Have you ever found roaches in the toilet?

 

 

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Bed Bug Infestation Rates Are Increasing Dramatically In Arizona, And The Pests Seem More Resilient Than Ever

For the past two decades, bed bug infestation rates have been steadily increasing throughout the United States and most of the world. In fact, bed bugs are even expanding their range into Alaska where they are becoming significant pests in isolated rural villages. In Arizona, bed bug infestations have been common in apartments and single family homes for over a decade, but in recent years the pests have been appearing in government buildings, businesses, public buses, dormitories and many other high traffic public locations.

In response to growing bed bug infestations in Arizona apartment buildings and smaller multi-unit housing complexes several years ago, state lawmakers passed a law in 2014 that requires landlords to pay for bed bug treatments in circumstances where the pests invade more than one rental unit. This law also requires renters to promptly report bed bug issues when they occur in a rental unit, and if a renter neglects to do this, or attempts to eliminate the pests his/herself, he/she could be made liable for the total cost of eliminating the infestation.

Toward the end of 2017, pest control professionals removed three benches from the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix after multiple treatment efforts failed to eradicate the pests. Several years earlier, bed bugs were found on the same type of padded benches in a different area of the airport, and this case also saw the eventual removal of the infested seats. Earlier that same year, experts declared Phoenix to be the 7th most bed bug-infested city in the US, and this year, the New York Library Association published an article describing the alarming increase in bed bug infestations in Arizona’s public libraries. The most recent bed bug fiasco in Arizona that has made national news involves the long running infestation at the Phoenix Department of Economic Security.

A few months ago, employees at the DES building discovered that bed bugs were active in their workplace, which prompted management to hire pest control professionals in order to have the pests eliminated. However, bed bug issues, such as bites and employees bringing the pests home with them, continued for weeks, which eventually motivated a group of employees to describe the situation to a local news station. Once the story became public, management decided to vacate the building in order to have more aggressive treatments carried out.

While the building remained empty for extensive treatments, employees worked remotely from home, but upon returning to the building ten days later, they found that the bed bug infestation had spread to new areas. Now government officials are paying to have bed bugs eradicated from employee homes, as many individuals in the building left work with bed bugs on their clothing. The agency is also working with experts at the University of Arizona and the Department of Health and Human Services in order to fully eradicate the bed bug pests from the building.

Have you noticed that more people are claiming to have experienced issues with bed bugs?

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How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels

How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels | Bed Bug Control Phoenix

If there is one person who can answer all of your bed bug questions, then it would be author Brooke Borel. Borel writes for Popular Science Magazine, and she has conducted her own research on the behavior and biology of bed bugs. Most of her research focuses on what attracts bed bugs to humans. In addition to studying bed bugs, Borel has recently had a book published that describes the blood sucking creatures in detail; she has also experienced bed bug infestations herself. Recently, during an interview on National Public Radio, Borel described why bed bugs disappeared for several decades only to later return stronger and more resilient than they had been before before.

During the 1940s, scientists developed one of the first synthetic insecticides. This insecticide is now banned, but it was known as DDT, and it successfully destroyed bed bug populations, as well as many other insect species. During World War II, DDT was used by the Americans and British to fend off mosquitoes that carried malaria, as well as typhus-carrying lice. After the war, DDT became available to both pest control professional and consumers. People would often spray the chemical all over their homes, and DDT was included in many wallpapers, varnishes and paints. The widespread use of DDT during this time cannot be overstated.

DDT was so effective at killing bed bugs, the generations born after World War II had not even heard of the insects, as they had been virtually wiped out. This meant that pest controllers did not know how to treat bed bug infestations when the bugs resurfaced decades later. Bed bugs were so rare during the mid to late twentieth century that most professional entomologists had never been educated about bed bugs. According to Borel, to this day, experts cannot conclusively determine how bed bugs reappeared as aggressively as they did following several decades of inactivity. Many scientists believe that there had always been small pockets of bed bugs that had slowly adapted to survive DDT and other insecticide treatments over the course of several decades. However, this does not explain why bed bug activity was nearly nonexistent for so many years. Some believe that the spike in international travel that occurred during the 1980s led small pockets of surviving bed bugs to spread to urban areas all over the world by hitchhiking on travelers.

Do you believe that researchers are getting close to developing a revolutionary new insecticide that will work as effectively as DDT initially did during the middle of the twentieth century?

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How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels

How Bed Bug Populations Reached Epidemic Levels | Bed Bug Control Phoenix Bed Bug Control

If there is one person who can answer all of your bed bug questions, then it would be author Brooke Borel. Borel writes for Popular Science Magazine, and she has conducted her own research on the behavior and biology of bed bugs. Most of her research focuses on what attracts bed bugs to humans. In addition to studying bed bugs, Borel has recently had a book published that describes the blood sucking creatures in detail; she has also experienced bed bug infestations herself. Recently, during an interview on National Public Radio, Borel described why bed bugs disappeared for several decades only to later return stronger and more resilient than they had been before before.

During the 1940s, scientists developed one of the first synthetic insecticides. This insecticide is now banned, but it was known as DDT, and it successfully destroyed bed bug populations, as well as many other insect species. During World War II, DDT was used by the Americans and British to fend off mosquitoes that carried malaria, as well as typhus-carrying lice. After the war, DDT became available to both pest control professional and consumers. People would often spray the chemical all over their homes, and DDT was included in many wallpapers, varnishes and paints. The widespread use of DDT during this time cannot be overstated.

DDT was so effective at killing bed bugs, the generations born after World War II had not even heard of the insects, as they had been virtually wiped out. This meant that pest controllers did not know how to treat bed bug infestations when the bugs resurfaced decades later. Bed bugs were so rare during the mid to late twentieth century that most professional entomologists had never been educated about bed bugs. According to Borel, to this day, experts cannot conclusively determine how bed bugs reappeared as aggressively as they did following several decades of inactivity. Many scientists believe that there had always been small pockets of bed bugs that had slowly adapted to survive DDT and other insecticide treatments over the course of several decades. However, this does not explain why bed bug activity was nearly nonexistent for so many years. Some believe that the spike in international travel that occurred during the 1980s led small pockets of surviving bed bugs to spread to urban areas all over the world by hitchhiking on travelers.

Do you believe that researchers are getting close to developing a revolutionary new insecticide that will work as effectively as DDT initially did during the middle of the twentieth century?

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Tarantulas In Arizona Often Consume Lizards And Rodents

There exists 800 documented tarantula species in the world today, and the state of Arizona is home to 30 of these species. Arizona is well known for its tarantula population, and for good reason, as some tarantulas in the state are large enough to prey upon and consume mammals. These mammals include several different rodent species as well as lizards. According to one study, the western desert tarantula of Arizona regularly preys upon kangaroo rats. In fact, the study described one instance in Tucson that saw a western desert  tarantula specimen carrying a fully grown rat on its back. This specimen was likely carrying the dead rat to its burrow in order to gorge itself on the rodent.

The body-size of the desert tarantula grows to be around three inches in length, and this measurement, of course, is not counting the tarantula’s long hairy legs. Males of this species live for around 10 to 12 years, but the much larger female lives for a period of around 25 years. The female produces between 200 and 300 offspring at a time, and luckily, their venomous bites are not considered medically significant to humans. This tarantula’s most common rodent prey, the desert-dwelling kangaroo rat, is not the tiny creature you may assume it to be considering the desert tarantula’s ability to consume the animal. This rat species grows to be around 4 to 5 inches in length, not counting its tail, and it lives a solitary existence within the blazing hot Sonoran Desert. The kangaroo rat has evolved to avoid tarantula predation by jumping as far as ten feet, and they are able to change their direction immediately upon landing.

Researchers have documented the existence of mammal-feeding tarantula species in seven countries located on six continents. Some mammal hunting spiders spin ultra-strong webs in order to capture rodents, and they all produce strong venom designed to incapacitate the vertebrae nervous system.

Have you ever witnessed an encounter of any kind between a tarantula and a rodent or lizard?

 

 

 

 

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Arizona Sees The Densest Mosquito Pest Populations Of Any Region In The US

Arizona is home to 40 mosquito species, some of which can spread diseases like the West Nile virus and St. Louis Encephalitis, while others are merely a biting nuisance, and some species are not even considered pests. Mosquitoes have not always posed a serious public health threat in Arizona, but this year, Arizona became the state with the highest number of West Nile disease cases, and the disease is now a permanent part of southern Arizona’s ecosystem. This means that residents can expect an abundance of West Nile-carrying mosquitoes in urban and residential areas every year from now on, and unless every homeowner in the southern half of the state diligently removes standing water sources from their lawns on a regular basis, the high rate of West Nile infection cases will also continue unabated.

Removing standing water that collects in small containers on residential lawns robs urban-dwelling Culex mosquitoes of their primary breeding source. Naturally, eliminating standing water from properties would greatly reduce the number of infected mosquitoes in human-populated areas, and therefore, the rate of West Nile infections would decrease substantially. Unfortunately, removing all standing water sources from properties is easier said than done, as large numbers of mosquitoes will congregate around even the smallest of standing water sources. For example, the small amount of water that collects in a flower pot saucer and a bottle cap is more than enough to provide developing eggs with the nourishment they need to mature into adults. So removing all breeding sites from a property would be difficult, as even the tiniest water puddles are enough to support Culex mosquito populations.

Considering the heavy rains during monsoon season, as well as the flash floods that result, keeping pools of water from collecting on properties would be next to impossible during July and August. In fact, Arizona is the state that sees the densest populations of mosquito pests, and this is largely due to the Massive amounts of water that collects on city streets during monsoons season. According to entomologists at Arizona State University, all the storm drain water in Arizona creates the perfect conditions for urban mosquitoes species to establish dense populations. However, this should not discourage residents from removing stagnant water from their property, as doing so will reduce the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes that congregate in human-populated areas. It is particularly important for Arizona residents to apply mosquito repellent before setting for outdoors.

Do you know anybody who has contracted the West Nile virus?

 

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Chigger Pest Issues Are Surprisingly Common On Residential Lawns In Arizona

Many people have heard of the parasitic pests commonly known as “chiggers,” but few people living in the US know why these arachnids are considered pests. Chiggers are well known to people living south of the border in Mexico and South America where the pests often transmit diseases. While chiggers can be found in several southern states, these tiny arachnid pests are not considered medically important in the US since they are not known for transmitting disease to humans in the country. However, chiggers can pose a serious nuisance to residents of Arizona, as they are common in residential yards where they inflict bites to humans that result in severe itchiness and swelling.

The term “chiggers” is a common name given to harvest mite larvae that feed on human and animal skin cells. During the spring season, adult harvest mites deposit eggs in soil located in residential yards, parks, nature preserves and in any landscape where grass and/or other forms of vegetation are present. During the late summer and fall seasons, chiggers emerge from the eggs, and although chiggers are small, their red bodies can sometimes be seen crawling about in gardens and on turf. Upon hatching, chiggers immediately attempt to feed by crawling atop blades of grass in order to jump and land on the skin of any human that walks by. 

Chiggers prefer to feed on birds and rodents, but they will not hesitate to feed on humans if their favored food sources are not available. Once chiggers land on human skin, they move beneath clothing before using their mouthparts to feed on skin cells. Chigger bites transmit enzymes into the bloodstream that cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals, but even non-allergic individuals can experience irritation from chigger bites that last for up to two weeks.

A little more than a month ago, a resident of Arizona recounted his struggle with chigger bites while gardening in his backyard. The resident had tried applying a number of anti-itch creams to relieve the itching caused by the many chigger bites that he had sustained, but when these failed, he eventually turned to steroid medication. The resident also decided to avoid his yard until the chigger issue could be resolved, and this is pretty much all he could do. Unfortunately, experts state that chiggers are impossible to avoid in areas where they are present, and the best thing to do in order to avoid bites is to avoid chigger-infested areas entirely. With the exception of their annoying bites, chiggers in the US are considered medically harmless, and DEET repellent can provide short-term protection from their bites.

Have you ever spotted a chigger or sustained a chigger bite in Arizona?

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Silverfish Often Establish Nuisance Infestations Within Homes, But They Can Damage Valuable Indoor Items As Well

Silverfish Often Establish Nuisance Infestations Within Homes, But They Can Damage Valuable Indoor Items As Well

Silverfish are bizarre looking and common insect pests in homes and buildings all over the world. Like their common name suggests, silverfish closely resemble fish, or shrimp-like crustaceans, and they grow to be a relatively sizable ¾ of an inch in body length. Silverfish are capable of living in homes and buildings throughout their life cycle, and females deposit their eggs within indoor cracks and crevices in walls and ledges. Larvae emerge from their eggs within a period of three weeks, and it takes 4 to 6 weeks before larvae develop into adults. Females lay around 100 eggs during their lifetime, and considering that eggs can develop into adults in less than two months, silverfish can become abundant within homes in a relatively short amount of time. Silverfish are particularly common in homes located in dry areas, making silverfish frequent home-invaders in Arizona. While silverfish are largely considered nuisance pests within homes, they can have an economic impact as well, due to their habit of chewing away at certain items, such as paper and stored food.

Silverfish have long lifespans for insects, as they live for a period of 6 to 8 years, and they are able to survive without food for over a year before succumbing to starvation. These pests can survive long periods within homes without being noticed by residents, as silverfish forage at night, and they are able to skitter along floors at fast speeds. However, silverfish require specific conditions in order to survive indoors, and they generally remain on the first floor of homes or in crawl spaces, cellars, and basements. Occasionally silverfish are found in large numbers in attics, but only under certain environmental conditions. These insects prefer to dwell in environments where the temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees, and they are particularly sensitive to moisture, as they require 70 to 90 percent humidity levels in order to survive.

Silverfish are unpleasant to look at and they can become a nuisance in a home when large numbers congregate indoors, but silverfish are also in the habit of seeking out and consuming human food, even unopened packages of stored food items. Silverfish prefer to consume human foods that are rich in carbohydrates and protein, such as flower, dried meat, oatmeal and cereals. These pests also feed on just about any item containing paper, such as books, important documents, photo albums and cardboard boxes. Silverfish also seem to have a taste for glue, which makes the binding of books a preferred snack for the pests.

Have you ever found items in your home that you believe had been damaged by silverfish?

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Why Some Homes See Repeated Spider Infestations While Others Don’t

Spiders do not generally establish extensive infestations within houses and buildings, but a few species are known for congregating in certain areas within homes. Since Arizona is home to the medically significant western black widow species, as well as five recluse spider species, not including the brown recluse, it is important for residents to identify the species of any spider/s that makes repeated appearances indoors. The relative abundance of vegetation, especially overgrown vegetation, surrounding homes is, perhaps, the most significant factor that can influence spider pest infestations within homes.

Spiders are attracted to residential yards due to the prevalence of their insect prey in gardens and lawn-grass. Some spiders capture insect prey with webs, while others have adapted to hunting down spiders on foot. Web-spinning spiders that are frequently found around and within homes include orb weavers, funnel weavers, cobweb spiders, house spiders, and black widows. Hunting spiders that are commonly found around homes include wolf spiders, crab spiders, wandering spiders, ground spiders and tarantulas. Web spinning spiders attach their silken webs to garden plants, tall overgrown weeds, shrubs and other forms of vegetation, while hunting spiders maintain a presence in yards and around gardens due to the abundance of insect food sources in vegetation-rich areas.

Spiders of all kinds are constantly present within all yards, and even in homes, but they become particularly numerous in yards where an abundance of vegetation indicates a high population of insect food sources. When vegetation becomes abundant around a home’s foundation, spiders often find a way indoors through cracks, crevices, crawl spaces, vents and a variety of other external entry points. This is why keeping shrubs and other forms of vegetation around a home’s foundation neatly trimmed will help to prevent spiders from wandering indoors.

Garden beds should be located about a foot away from a home’s foundation, and firewood should never be stacked against a home’s exterior walls. Outdoor lighting attracts insect pests, which in turn, attracts spider pests to homes, but using yellow incandescent and sodium vapor lamps in place of white incandescent and mercury vapor lamps will help to reduce both insect and spider population numbers on a property.

Have you had success at reducing arthropod pests around your home with yellow light bulbs?