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Everything Arizona Residents Need To Know About The Two Most Economically Significant Carpenter Ant Pests That Commonly Infest Homes In The State

Everything Arizona Residents Need To Know About The Two Most Economically Significant Carpenter Ant Pests That Commonly Infest Homes In The State

Carpenter ants are structural pests that are commonly found infesting homes throughout the US. Two carpenter ant species, C. modoc and C. vicinus, are considered economically significant pests in Arizona. The former species is commonly known as the “western black carpenter ant,” while the latter species has not been given a common name. Carpenter ant workers are well known for invading homes from outdoor nests that are located within close proximity to foundation walls, but many infestations see workers establish one or more indoor nesting sites after initially invading a home from a single primary or “parent nest.” Parent nests are always located outdoors within a dead, moist and decayed natural wood source, such as tree hollows, stumps, logs, fallen branches and wood piles.

After leaving a parent nest, carpenter ant workers are known to travel unusually long distances along uniform foraging trails before establishing secondary or “satellite nests” within homes. This is why it is not uncommon for a parent nest to be located as far as 40 to 60 feet away from satellite nests within homes, but parent nests are often found in wood sources located in the yards of the homes that they infest. In many infestation cases, workers will not establish an indoor nest, but will instead invade homes in search of sweet-tasting food sources, making them common pests of foods stored within pantries and cupboards. However, carpenter ants get their common name for their destructive habit of establishing satellite nests within moist and decayed structural wood where they excavate tunnels, eventually causing infested structural wood to become hollow and weak. Satellite nests are also commonly found within wall voids, ceiling voids, and even attic spaces, as workers are known for accessing homes through attic vents by crawling along tree branches that make contact with roofs or exterior walls. Both C. modoc and C. vicinus are easily recognizable pest species due to their relatively large size, which ranges from ¼ to a little more than ½ of an inch in length, and the former is black while the latter is black or reddish in color.

Have you ever found carpenter ants infesting your kitchen?

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The Highly Destructive Pacific Deathwatch Beetle Is Considered The Most Serious Wood-Infesting Beetle Pest

The Highly Destructive Pacific Deathwatch Beetle Is Considered The Most Serious Wood-Infesting Beetle Pest

The Pacific deathwatch beetle is part of group of wood-boring beetles widely known as powderpost beetles. They are common worldwide, but the Pacific deathwatch beetle is common in the southwest, and is considered by experts to be the most destructive and serious of the wood-infesting beetles. They can cause extensive structural damage to the wood and structures made with wood both in and around homes.

Pacific deathwatch beetles have an elongate, but also rounded, oval-shaped body with an enlarged hump that covers their heads. They are reddish brown to black in color and are around ¼ of an inch in length. Their larvae, which are the true culprits when it comes to the destruction of wood, are C-shaped and plump, with a creamy white coloring. The adult beetles lay their eggs directly in the natural pores and cracks of wood. When the larvae hatch, they bore into the wood, spending months and even years feeding and tunneling through the interior of the wooden structure. The larvae produce a fine, powder-like frass made up of wood particles and fecal matter from their feeding, which is packed tightly within the tunnels they create. This can sometimes make the wood appear blistered or uneven.

This powder is one of the first telltale signs of an infestation of Pacific deathwatch beetles. This fine powder gets pushed out of the numerous small holes the larvae create when they begin boring into the wood, which can be seen as little piles on floors, furniture, or the ground. These larvae can bore extensively throughout wood as they are feeding, leading to the weakening, disintegration, and even collapse of the wooden structure as long as the infestation goes unnoticed. As these larvae will spend months and sometimes years tunneling through wood, infestations of the Pacific deathwatch beetle can be very serious, with extensive structural damage to the wood in and around the infested home.

Have you ever discovered an infestation of wood-boring beetles in your home?


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False Powderpost Beetle Infestations Are Difficult To Notice Despite The Extensive Damage They Inflict To Structural Wood, Which Sometimes Results In Structural Collapse

False Powderpost Beetle Infestations Are Difficult To Notice Despite The Extensive Damage They Inflict To Structural Wood, Which Sometimes Results In Structural Collapse

Termites are not the only insect pests homeowners need to watch out for when it comes to the structural integrity of their home. The wood-boring insect known as the false powderpost beetle can cause just as much devastation. To make matters worse, infestations of false powderpost beetles can go unnoticed until the infested wood is literally falling apart.

False powderpost beetles will lay their eggs in the cracks and pores of wood, and it is their larvae that bore into that wood, carving out extensive tunnels that weaken the structural integrity and eventually lead to it collapsing and even disintegrating if the infestation goes unnoticed for a long period of time. The larvae produce a coarse, gritty powder-like frass, which builds up in the tunnels as they bore their way through the wood. Infestations of regular powderpost beetles are often detected through the presence of the finer powder their larvae produce, which can be found piled outside the holes they create in wood. However, the coarser powder produced by false powderpost beetles is much less frequently found piled outside of their tunnels due to how tightly it is packed inside the galleries and its grittier texture, which keeps it from being pushed outside of the tunnels as easily as the finer powder of the powderpost beetle larvae.

This often prevents the detection of infestations of false powderpost beetles until the wood has been extensively damaged, many times to the point where it collapses or disintegrates. Infestations of false powderpost beetles can, therefore, frequently result in much greater damage to structural wood and be costly to deal with by the time they are discovered. False powderpost beetles will infest both soft and hard woods, as well as non-wood materials, making them a danger to much of the structural materials found in people’s homes.

Have you ever found a coarse, powder-like substance piled outside small holes that were bored into the wood in your home?


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 How To Eliminate Indoor Face Flies That Invade Homes In Tremendous Numbers During The Fall And Winter Seasons

Along with several species of home-invading cockroaches, ants and termites, flies are one of the most common groups of insect pests found within and around homes and buildings. Hearing the term “fly pests” conjures up images of the frequently encountered and annoying domestic house fly species (Musca domestica), but several fly species that closely resemble house flies invade homes throughout the United States regularly, including blow flies, fruit flies, drain flies, cluster flies and face flies. These fly pests are commonly known as “filth flies” due to their habit of breeding on all different sorts of decaying and pathogen-rich organic matter, such as garbage, dead vegetation, rotten food, excrement, and animal carcasses. Due to the abundance of readily available sources of organic matter found within nearly all types of indoor and outdoor environments, numerous filth fly pest species have successfully established non-native habitats that span much of the world.

Flies belong to the Diptera order of insects, which is comprised of more than 125,000 species worldwide, but experts estimate that an additional 1 million fly species of this order have yet to be discovered and properly documented. While a great many Diptera fly species resemble the house fly, this order also includes many other well known groups of winged insect pests, including mosquitoes, gnats and crane flies. One of the most significant indoor filth fly pest species found throughout the US, the “face fly,” favors livestock manure as a breeding site, making them common in rural homes that are located near expansive agricultural landscapes. However, face flies often enter urban and suburban homes in massive numbers during the fall and winter seasons in order to secure a warm overwintering site.

Face flies first appeared in the United States during the 1950s when large congregations began invading eastern and midwestern homes during the colder months. Eventually, these fly pests expanded their habitat all the way to the Pacific Coast and southward into Arizona, and today, face flies are common indoor pests of homes throughout the state. Face flies appear identical to house flies, but face flies are often recognized as a separate species when they indulge in their seemingly unusual infestation behaviors during the fall and winter. After swarming indoors, face flies establish harborages in hidden and often inaccessible indoor areas, particularly wall voids and tight attics spaces, but unlike cluster flies, which also invade homes in order to overwinter, face flies almost always die within their hiding spots before the arrival of the spring season. As a result, face fly infestations see countless dead specimens collect within wall voids where they attract other insect pests that prefer to feed on flies, most notably carpet beetles.

Have you ever experienced an insect infestation that started in response to an already existing infestation?

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How Do Bait Systems Eliminate Indoor Cockroach Infestations?

It is well known that termites and ants are particularly difficult to control in terms of both preventative and remedial pest management tactics. However, cockroaches were the most significant insect pests of homes and buildings during the 20th century and before, as they were largely immune to the professional-grade control measures that existed at the time. Luckily, the late 20th century saw the advent of effective cockroach baits that remain the industry standard to this day.

Since numerous cockroach pests inhabit single nests that are obscured within inaccessible indoor areas, such as wall voids, there is no easy way to destroy or remove cockroaches from an infested home. Early roach baiting systems only killed the few individual roaches that ventured out of their nests and consumed the poison bait, but today’s roach baiting systems contain a slow acting poison that becomes fatal hours after being ingested by roach pests. This delayed reaction allows affected roaches to return to their nest where they spread the poison to their nestmates, eventually leading to the complete destruction of the nest.

These improved baits work by exploiting several cockroach behaviors, particularly foraging, mutual fecal consumption in nests, and vomit consumption in nests. For example, each hidden cockroach nest within a home sees a small proportion of individuals leave during the nighttime hours in order to gather food sources from open living areas. These foraging roaches consume poison bait from bait stations placed throughout a home before returning to their nests.

Cockroaches naturally indulge in the consumption of their nestmates’ feces, and therefore, the contaminated feces of poisoned roaches are readily eaten by nestmates, allowing the poison to spread throughout a nest. The poison is also spread via cannibalism, which is a normal cockroach behavior. Lastly, studies have shown that foraging roaches vomit before dying from the toxic effects of the bait, which prompts healthy nestmates to consume the toxic vomit, further facilitating the spread of fatal toxins throughout a nest.

Have you ever resorted to cockroach baits to eliminate an infection?

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The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

One of the most common ant pest species in southern Arizona, Iridomyrmex pruinosus, or Forelius pruinosus, as the species is known today, is often mistaken for the highly pestiferous Argentine ant species. Argentine ants are common ant pests in most southern states, but they are relatively less abundant in Arizona. F. pruinosus, on the other hand, is consistently the first or second most commonly encountered ant species by pest control professionals in residential areas of Phoenix. This pest species is also among the top 5 most commonly encountered ant pest species in residential areas of Tucson. While this ant pest does not inflict venomous stings to humans, F. pruinosus workers invade homes in large numbers, and eradicating infestations is exceedingly difficult, even for professionals.

DYI pest control techniques will usually not suffice to eliminate F. pruinosus infestations, and most infestation victims do not bother with such techniques after seeing the overwhelming number of ants an infestation entails. Although F. pruinosus colonies are not as large as Argentine ant colonies, the former occasionally nests within houses, while the latter sees workers invade homes from outside nests. In most F. pruinosus infestation cases, the workers invade homes from nests located near the foundation and at the surface of soil beneath concrete slabs. Nests are also frequently found in exposed soil and obscured beneath objects like stones, leaf litter, patios, wood piles, logs, and around stumps. This species is abundant throughout the southeast and in much of the southwest, but specimens collected from these two areas look markedly different from one another. Southeastern species are usually dark, while southwestern species see workers come in a variety of shades and colors, but most are light in color. Workers are relatively small at only around 1.8 to 2 mm in length regardless of their geographic location, and they form uniform foraging trails that lead into homes from outside nests. When crushed, F. pruinosus secrete a fluid that smells strongly of rotten coconut, not unlike the odor produced by the aptly named odorous house ant species.

Have you ever experienced an infestation that consisted of an unusually large number of ant pests?

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Is There A Difference Between The Longhorn Crazy Ant And The Tawny Crazy Ant? Are Both Of These Pests Found In Arizona?

Crazy ants are pretty easy to recognize due to their habit of running around aimlessly when disturbed, making their movements appear “crazy” and erratic. There are a number of different species of “crazy” ants, including the longhorn crazy ant and the tawny crazy ant. There are slight differences between the species, but they are all invasive insect pests that can drive homeowners crazy when they infest homes.

These invasive pests are not native to the U.S., but have established a presence all over the country as well as the rest of the world. Longhorn crazy ants are native to Asia, while tawny crazy ants originate from South America. While both species have the distinguishing feature of their antennae and legs being longer than their bodies proportionally, longhorn crazy ants are dark brown to black in color, while tawny crazy ants are a reddish-brown color. Both are serious nuisance pests, and will occasionally bite while curving their abdomen forward and secreting formic acid into the bite wound. Both species will invade and form colonies in a wide range of indoor and outdoor environments and are attracted to many types of food, including sweets, grease, and animal matter just to name a few.

Longhorn crazy ants form relatively small colonies of up to 2,000 workers and multiple queens. Longhorn crazy ants clone their queen and her mates in order to reproduce faster. This can result in several interconnected colonies existing, creating much larger infestations. They also have mobile colonies, and have a tendency to suddenly abandon one nest site and move to another. This can all make eliminating infestations much more complicated. Tawny crazy ants form huge colonies, with some growing to reach billions of tawny crazy ants per acre. They also have a tendency to tend and even protect aphids, making them a large threat to agricultural crops and gardens. Both are well known for damaging electrical equipment. Tawny crazy ants have the ability to protect themselves from fire ant venom by covering their bodies in formic acid, causing them to even displace fire ants in some places, causing problems in the local ecological system.

You can certainly find both the longhorn and the tawny crazy ant in Arizona. Longhorn crazy ants are found throughout the United States. Tawny crazy ants are a problem throughout the south, including Arizona. Homeowners in Arizona should watch out for infestations of both the longhorn and tawny crazy ant.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of either of these “crazy” ants?


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Everything Homeowners Need Know About The Efficacy Of Various Fly Traps

Several types of fly traps are available in retail stores, some of which are effective at catching flies within homes, while others are almost completely worthless. At best, fly traps will reduce the number of flies within an infested home, but no type of fly trap will eliminate infestations, or even provide satisfactory control. Some infestations see fly pests maintain a temporary presence within homes, but most infestations that require professional intervention see flies rapidly reproduce within decaying organic matter found in well-concealed and/or inaccessible indoor areas. Pest control professionals may use fly traps, but never without combining fly traps with other pest control methods.

Several food-based fly traps are available to purchase in retail stores, many of which look like a jar topped with a cone. In order to select an effective food-based fly trap, the species of fly pest within a home must first be identified, as food preferences vary among fly species. For example, sugar or yeast-based lures are effective for catching house flies, while blow flies are only attracted to high protein or ammonium carbonate lures. Many flies are attracted to light, including moth flies, humpbacked flies and house flies. Many traps use lights of certain wavelengths to lure flies onto sticky paper or to electrocute them. Light traps that electrocute flies are commonly referred to as “bug zappers,” and unfortunately, these traps often cause flies and other insects to break apart upon electrocution. When this occurs, insect body parts scatter around the vicinity of the light trap, which contaminate nearby surfaces with disease-causing microorganisms. This is why bug zappers should never be used in kitchens or other areas where food is located or frequently consumed. Sticky traps, or “fly paper,” are the oldest and most commonly used fly traps within homes, and they are effective at reducing the number of house flies within a home due to this species’ habit of resting on vertical surfaces. However, sticky traps are ineffective at catching all other fly pest species within homes.

Have you ever constructed a simple homemade fly trap with foods found in your home?

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Where Are Western Drywood Termite Colonies Most Commonly Found Within Urban And Suburban Areas?

Incisitermes minor, or the western drywood termite, as the species is more commonly known, is the most commonly encountered and most destructive drywood termite pest in southern Arizona. Unlike subterranean termite species, which prefer to infest moist and decayed wood, drywood termites are capable of infesting dry and sound wood, just as their name suggests. However, given their desert habitat, western drywood termites have adapted to thrive on wood sources that are particularly dry, making even newly constructed homes vulnerable to attacks by this species. Any structural wood with a moisture content greater than 7 percent can be readily infested by western drywood termites.

In the natural habitat, western drywood termite colonies are most abundant within wooded areas, river washes and canyons where trees can be found. Colonies are frequently recovered from dead portions of willow, cottonwood, oak, and sycamore trees, and these termites are often found infesting tree stumps, logs, and large branches that have fallen to the ground in rural, urban and residential areas. Due to the western drywood termite’s aggressive feeding habits, they are often found infesting natural wood sources on properties, which may afford homeowners adequate time to prevent the destructive pests from establishing an indoor infestation.

On urban and suburban properties where trees are not abundant, western drywood termites are commonly found infesting rose, Pyracantha, and oleander bushes near structures. In urban and suburban areas where trees can be found, these termite pests prefer to feed on alder, almond, apricot, ash, avocado, carob, cherry, citrus, elderberry, mulberry, ornamental pear, peach, plum, and walnut trees. In addition to infesting dry and sound structural lumber within homes, these pests are also frequently found infesting indoor items that are made of finished wood, particularly furniture. In southern Arizona, western drywood termite alates swarm during the months of May through August, and alates are well known for flying through attic vents where they establish colonies within attics and other indoor areas that can be accessed through attics, such as wall voids and ceiling voids.

Are the lumber components in your home treated with chemicals that repel drywood termite pests?


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The Non-Biting Midges That Invade Homes In Large Numbers During Bouts Of Humid Weather

Non-biting midges belonging to the Chironomidae family in the Diptera order of flies are similar to mosquitoes in that they rely on pools of water in order to successfully spawn offspring. Although this group of insect pests cannot inflict bites, they can become a major nuisance within homes, especially during the monsoon season. In Arizona, rainfall quickly pools on residential and commercial streets, which naturally causes non-biting midge populations to increase substantially. These insect pests are well known for traveling long distances in order to enter homes. For example, when water sources becomes abundant, thousands of non-biting midges frequently congregate on the exterior walls of houses, on the underside of eaves, in doorways and in open living spaces located a quarter of a mile away from their breeding sites. These pests are so irritating that real estate values have decreased substantially in residential areas where non-biting midge outbreaks have repeatedly occurred.

Non-biting midges can access homes by squeezing through the narrowest of cracks located on the exterior walls of homes, and invasions are common during the nighttime hours due to their attraction to artificial lights. When large numbers of non-biting midges establish an indoor presence they can contaminate food, fly into people’s eyes, ears and mouth, and in some cases, it is difficult to avoid inhaling the airborne pests. In residential areas where outbreaks are frequent, spiders also become uncomfortably abundant in and around homes, as spiders prey on non-biting midges. Several species of non-biting midge pests are known for entering homes in massive numbers during Arizona’s monsoon season. One common species, Chironomus attenuatus, typically relies on ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for breeding, but at least two consecutive broods can emerge solely from monsoon waters during the mid to late summer seasons in Arizona. There is little that pest control professionals can do to protect homes from being invaded by swarms of non-biting midges, but sealing exterior cracks, crevices and other entry points can go a long way in preventing these pests from entering homes.

Has your home ever been invaded by large numbers of airborne insect pests?