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What Is The Mosquito Repellent Ingredient Known As DEET? And How Should It Be Applied To Skin?

What Is The Mosquito Repellent Ingredient Known As DEET? And How Should It Be Applied To Skin?

Many mosquito species found in urban and suburban areas throughout the US transmit disease to humans, and the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne diseases in the country vary by region. For example, the often deadly disease known as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is contracted from mosquitoes in the northeastern coastal states, particularly Massachusetts, and during the Zika virus scare, residents of Florida and other Gulf Coast states were at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

Historically, mosquito-borne disease has not posed a significant threat to residents of Arizona, but mosquitoes that carry the west Nile virus recently established a permanent habitat in the state. In fact, during 2019, Arizona saw more West Nile infection cases than any other state in the country, and during 2019, at least 16 individuals in Arizona died from the disease. Now that mosquito-borne disease is a serious threat in Arizona, it is important for residents to take measures to prevent mosquito bites. It has become common knowledge that insect repellents containing the ingredient known as DEET are more effective at preventing mosquito bites than other non-DEET repellent products, but few people know what DEET actually is beyond this often repeated information.

N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products, but contrary to popular belief, DEET does not kill mosquitoes on contact, and it does not necessarily repel mosquitoes either. DEET impairs the sense of smell in mosquitoes, which deprives them of their ability to sense human breath and sweat odors. DEET repellents are likely to repel mosquitoes after they land directly on a patch of skin where repellent has been applied. DEET insect repellents should be applied to clothing and bare skin, and ingesting the chemical must be avoided, so repellent should never be sprayed directly onto the face; instead, DEET should be rubbed into facial skin with fingertips.

Do you use DEET insect repellent during the spring and summer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where In Homes Do German Cockroaches Mate And Lay Eggs?

The only four cockroach pests that can be found in abundance within all states in the contiguous US are the American, German, Oriental and brown-banded cockroach species. While these four species are the most common cockroach pests found in Arizona homes, the Turkestan cockroach, which can only be found in the southwest, has become one of the ten most commonly managed cockroach species in the US. This is surprising, considering the Turkestan cockroach was first discovered in the US as recently as 1978, while the four most common roach species have all inhabited the US for centuries, with the exception of the brown-banded species. Despite its recent introduction into the US, the Turkestan cockroach is rapidly displacing the Oriental cockroach in urban and suburban areas of the southwest.

While the Turkestan cockroach is like most roach pest species in that it dwells primarily outdoors, the German and brown-banded species dwell primarily indoors. The brown-banded cockroach has only inhabited the US for a little more than a century, while the German cockroach has been a pest in North America since the colonial era. Due to centuries of habitat expansion, the German cockroach is encountered within American homes far more often than the brown-banded cockroach. The German cockroach is easily the most commonly encountered and difficult cockroach pest to eradicate from infested structures, and this is largely due to the species’ resistance to virtually all insecticide formulations.

Although cockroaches do not live in colonies like ants and termites, they are somewhat socially oriented, as they live in groups to maximize resources. Male and female adults also become rather choosy when selecting mates, and they are known to communicate by mutual antennae contact as a courtship ritual. Fertile males and females locate secluded areas, such as narrow cracks and crevices within wall voids, for a proper site in which to mate for a period of 80 minutes or so. German cockroaches proliferate within wall voids and other inaccessible indoor areas rapidly, and females carry their egg cases (ootheca) for days before eventually dropping them shortly before they hatch. This is why homeowners are unlikely to locate German cockroach eggs within infested homes.

Have you ever positively identified a German cockroach specimen within your home?

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How Does The Government Protect New Homes From Subterranean Termite Attacks In Arizona?

How Does The Government Protect New Homes From Subterranean Termite Attacks In Arizona?

Subterranean termites inflict more property destruction than drywood and dampwood termites in all US states. While two drywood termite species, the dark and light western drywood termites, are economically significant pests of structural wood in Arizona, arid-land and desert subterranean termites are both responsible for the majority of damaging infestations discovered in Arizona homes annually. Unlike drywood and dampwood termites, subterranean termite colonies are located beneath the ground where workers tunnel through soil in search of cellulose-rich food sources, such as dead roots, stumps, sticks, and other forms of fibrous plant matter. In Arizona where suburban developments continue to expand onto open areas of desert land where subterranean termites are abundant, protecting homes from infestations is a must, and a legal requirement.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Veterans Administration of Housing and Urban Development (VA HUD), and state and local laws in Arizona require new homes to undergo preventative termite soil treatments before and/or during construction. Only properly licensed pest control professionals are legally allowed to apply termiticide barrier treatments to soil on properties where homes will be built. State regulation requires pest control companies to control any subterranean termite pest issues that may occur on the properties that they had pretreated for a period of three years following the initial soil termiticide application. If the owners of a new Arizona home wish to have an additional structure built onto their home, such as another room, a patio, or any project that disturbs the soil or involves cutting into the concrete slab, the owners must first notify the pest control company that pre-treated the home. If the owners of an Arizona home experience subterranean termite pest issues on their property within the three year time frame following the initial pre-treatment, they can contact the company that performed the pre-treatment for additional services. If homeowners do not know which pest control company pre-treated their property, the home’s builder or general contractor can provide the necessary information.

Have you ever experienced subterranean termite pest issues after moving into a fairly new home?

 

 

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How Are Silverfish Able To Survive In Arid Regions Given Their Need For High-Moisture Environments

Lepisma saccharina, more commonly known as “silverfish,” are particularly fast-moving, common, and creepy-looking insect pests of homes. In addition to being an indoor nuisance, silverfish often infest and damage books by chewing holes through pages, and they will readily eat just about any material containing starch, cellulose and glue. Silverfish look more akin to marine animals than insects, as their body is covered in tiny moist scales. These pests are silver to grey in color and around ⅓ of an inch in length. They possess antenna and their body gradually narrows toward the rear. They commonly infest furniture, and books, and sometimes, silverfish are found in kitchen cabinets and pantries where they feed on sugars, meats, and grains. A few silverfish species in the US are considered indoor pests, but L. saccharina is the most widespread and common. Despite their need for humid conditions, silverfish thrive throughout much of the year in arid Arizona where they are often found congregating in moist indoor areas.

Silverfish prefer conditions between 71 and 80 degrees, and while they must maintain a habitat in humid environments, they can survive exposure to a variety of temperatures. Silverfish may invade wall voids where plumbing leaks, and/or condensation from pipes maintain moist conditions. Provided silverfish secure a moist environment, they can reproduce within homes, sometimes leading to massive infestations. After a mating ritual in which sperm is delivered via a silk thread, eggs are deposited within cracks and crevices on walls and other surfaces. Around 30 eggs are produced at a time, and they appear as small clusters of about 12 eggs. Eggs hatch in 90 degree temperatures and mature within a span of 30 to 40 days. Silverfish were one of the earliest species to appear on the planet, as they emerged on earth long before other common insect pests. Because they are primitive organisms, immature offspring that hatch from eggs closely resemble adults, only smaller in size.

Have you ever found silverfish in your home?

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How Often Do Arizona Pest Control Professionals Address Harvester Ant Infestations That Pose A Medical Threat To The Occupants Of Infested Homes?

How Often Do Arizona Pest Control Professionals Address Harvester Ant Infestations That Pose A Medical Threat To The Occupants Of Infested Homes?

It is probably safe to say that most Arizona residents are aware that numerous venomous and medically threatening animals inhabit their home state, including snakes, spiders, scorpions, ants, wasps, bees, and even lizards. It is also common knowledge that virtually all spiders in the state, while venomous and intimidating to look at, are harmless to humans. Of course, the western black widow and a few recluse spider species are exceptions in this regard. In Arizona, bees are more deadly than snakes, and this is due to the abundance of Africanized honey bees (killer bees) in the state. The Arizona bark scorpion has the potential to inflict deadly bites, but quality medical care makes fatal scorpion stings unheard of in the southwest US. Many Arizona residents are under the impression that red-imported fire ants can be found near their homes, but these hazardous ants were actually eradicated from the state years ago. However, extremely venomous harvester ants are abundant around Arizona homes.

The stings inflicted by harvester ants are considered to be among the most painful, and the venom produced by these ants is more toxic than that of all other insect species documented. A little more than 24 harvester ant species have been documented in North America, most of which can be found in Arizona. Studies have shown that southern fire ants and multiple harvester ant species are responsible for the vast majority of medically significant ant stings that occur in Arizona. The three harvester ant species considered to be a public health threat in Arizona are commonly known as rough, red and Maricopa harvester ants. The red harvester ant has caused two documented deaths. In one case, a Tucson man went into anaphylactic shock after one single red harvester ant stung his upper thigh. Apparently, the ant crawled into the man’s shorts while he had been sitting on a sidewalk.

Harvester ants are considered medically threatening pests due to their abundance in urban and suburban areas of Arizona, particularly Phoenix and Tucson. Luckily, harvester ants are not likely to invade homes, but one study found that Arizona pest control companies address harvester ant infestations frequently. In fact, harvester ant infestations around Arizona homes are becoming increasingly common due to the rate at which new homes are being built in their desert habitat.

Have you ever had an encounter with harvester ants?

 

 

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Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Three years ago, American entomologists published reports describing the termite-related hazards associated with the presence of spray polyurethane-foam insulation within homes. This form of insulation is often referred to simply as “spray-foam insulation,” and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to typical wall insulation throughout the US. Spray-foam insulation (SFI) is relatively cheap and easy to install within new homes and old homes where original insulation has become warn, ineffective, and in need of replacement. However, SFI may not be the most economical choice in the long run, as numerous urban entomologists, pest control professionals, and inspectors have claimed that the foam hinders their ability to visually detect indoor termite infestations and related wood damage. Therefore, homes containing SFI are vulnerable to termite infestations, as it makes homes next to impossible to inspect, let alone treat.

SFI is applied within crawl spaces, attics and wall voids, which are three indoor areas where termite infestations and associated wood damage is most commonly found. In response to this industry-wide claim on the part of pest control professionals and other experts, the executive director of the Spray Polyurethane-Foam Alliance (SPFA) has claimed that pest control professionals only fail to detect termite infestations within homes containing SFI due to their primitive termite-detection methods. The executive director specifically stated that termite infestations could be effectively detected within SFI homes using acoustic detection devices, microwave devices, infrared monitors, air emission-detectors, and/or termite-sniffing dogs. Since the pest control industry is always interested in adopting more convenient methods of termite-detection within homes, several university and government entomologists had multiple 20 year veterans of the pest control industry inspect an infested basement for termite pests and damage.

One group of pest control professionals were tasked with using typical visual inspection tools to find the termite pests,  while another group relied on the above-mentioned “advanced” inspection tools. With the exception of one moisture meter, which is already a common inspection tool, neither a visual inspection nor an inspection involving the devices led the professionals to the active infestation or damaged wood sites. Also, since subterranean termites thrive in moist conditions, moisture meters may indicate where the pests are most likely located, but a moisture meter alone is not sufficient to detect termite pests. Unsurprisingly, the infestation was rapidly found following the removal of the SFI.

Does your home contain spray-foam insulation?

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The Black Polycaon Beetle

The Black Polycaon Beetle Commonly Infests Hardwood Flooring And Furniture Made Of Any Softwood Species, Sometimes For Several Years

Several beetle species see adult females lay eggs on the surface of wood in order to allow emerging larvae to bore into wood for nesting and feeding purposes. Larvae of most wood-boring beetle species excavate interior tunnels through natural wood sources only, like trees, logs, stumps and fallen branches. Unfortunately, a significant number of beetle species also bore into finished wood sources, like structural wood, furniture, and other forms of  woodwork. Naturally, beetle species that bore into finished wood sources are considered economically significant insect pests due to the costly damage they inflict to valued woodwork.

Much like termites, larvae of wood-boring beetle species excavate nesting tunnels within wood where they feed on cellulose for nutritional purposes during their maturation into adulthood. The most common wood-boring beetle pests that infest woodwork on US properties include powderpost beetles, old house borers and deathwatch beetles. The Bostrichidae family of wood-boring beetles include 700 documented species, some of which are pests of woodwork that are commonly known as “false powderpost beetles.”

The most destructive powderpost beetle species include the “leadcable borer,” the “bamboo borer,” and the “black polycaon.” Black polycaon beetles are extremely abundant in Arizona where pest control professionals frequently recover larvae from infested plywood and furniture, particularly veneer furniture. While larvae of this species can infest any softwood species, they have also been found infesting hardwood flooring and oak furniture within homes and buildings in Arizona. Black polycaon beetle larvae generally infest woodwork for around one year before reaching maturity, at which point they emerge from wood through small exit holes that are around 7 mm in diameter. These exit holes are visible on the surface of damaged woodwork, and in rare cases, larvae have infested finished wood items for as long as 20 years before reaching adulthood. The black and cylindrical adults are between 11 and 22 mm in length, and they often enter homes due to their attraction to artificial light sources.

Have you ever encountered flying beetles around your indoor or outdoor lights?

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The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

Nearly 20 termite species have been documented within Arizona, around half of which are known to damage woodwork. The termite species found in Arizona belong to all three groups of termites, which are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. In the United States as a whole, subterranean termites are by far the most common termite pests of structural wood, as around 80 percent of all infestations reported annually involve subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are also the most common termite pests in Arizona, but multiple drywood species in the state frequently inflict damage to structures as well. The desert and arid-land subterranean termites, and the western and light-western drywood termite species are the most destructive wood-infesting pests in Arizona. However, only one dampwood termite species in Arizona is considered a pest of structural wood.

Paraneotermes simplicicornis, or the “desert dampwood termite,” is not, despite its common name, technically a dampwood termite species, as they belong to the Kalotermitidae family, which are drywood termites. Generally, both drywood and dampwood termite species nest within single wood items located above ground, such as logs, fallen branches, and tree stumps, but the desert dampwood termite species is unique for dwelling within soil where they feed on structural lumber in contact with the ground and roots from both live and dead trees. Since desert dampwood termites can only feed on wood in contact with soil, they rarely inflict damage to structural wood within homes; instead, these termites tend to inflict heavy damage to wood fences, wood posts and dirt-filled porches. That being said, desert dampwood termites have been known to infest wood flooring within old homes that contain lumber components that make ground contact. Swarming alates from desert dampwood termite colonies emerge at around dusk from May through September in Arizona. While these swarms are not necessarily associated with monsoon season, they tend to emerge in the evening after heavy rainstorms.

Have you ever discovered termite damage on your landscape plants?

 

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The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Crematogaster genus is comprised of numerous ant species, many of which are considered biting and wood-damaging structural pests. Worker ants from this genus vary from 2.5 mm to 4 mm, and their unusually large heads make them somewhat recognizable. Their heads range in color from reddish-brown to black, and most species possess dark or black colored bodies. Crematogaster ants rarely nest in soil below the ground; instead, these ants prefer to establish nests in moisture-damaged wood sources above the ground, most notably within tree stumps, logs, posts, and at the base of dead and decaying trees. Occasionally, these establish nests in moist structural wood within homes, and they are particularly abundant in urban and suburban habitats where multiple Crematogaster species are known pests that are commonly referred to as “acrobat ants,” and “cocktail ants.” These common names derive from their strange habit of raising or “cocking” their gaster (bulbous rear body segment) above their head when they become threatened.

Due to their need for moisture, Crematogaster ants are most abundant in the humid southeast, but several Crematogaster species can be found throughout Arizona, including the two most pestiferous species, C. cerasi and C. lineolata. C. cerasi workers are reddish-brown and they frequently nest within wood on roofs, wood siding, structural wood in ceiling and wall voids, door and window frames, and wooden porches. Workers are known for being aggressive and they emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed. C. lineolata workers are the same color as C. cerasi workers, with the exception of some yellowish colored individuals. Like most species in this genus, C. lineolata workers emit a foul odor when disturbed, but unlike many of their close relatives, C. lineolata workers aggressively bite humans. While C. cerasi prefers to feed on live and dead insects, C. lineolata workers seek out human food sources, especially sweets and meat, making them common within pantries and kitchen cupboards. Both species tend to establish nests within existing cavities in wood that had already been excavated by other insect species, such as termites and carpenter ants.

Have you ever sustained ant bites within your home?

 

 

 

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How Do Annual Sting Incidents In Arizona Compare Between Different Venomous Arthropod Species?

How Do Annual Sting Incidents In Arizona Compare Between Different Venomous Arthropod Species?

Yellow jackets and honey bees are responsible for a majority of the medically harmful sting incidents that occur annually in the US. While multiple yellow jacket species in Arizona are known for having been responsible for human deaths, fatalities resulting from honey bee envenomations are particularly common in the state. This is because Arizona sees the greatest abundance of Africanized honey bees or “killer bees,” as they are frequently called. Africanized honey bees are far more aggressive than their common European counterparts, and research shows that virtually all wild honey bees in Arizona are now “Africanized” due to interbreeding. Although bees and wasps are responsible for the highest number of annual sting incidents that trigger dangerous allergic reactions, medically harmful ant stings are by no means uncommon in the US. The red-imported fire ant is the most medically significant ant species found in the US, and luckily, these ants were eradicated from Arizona several years ago. Despite the red-imported fire ant’s absence in Arizona, the state sees a relatively high annual number of ant sting incidents that trigger severe and sometimes deadly allergic reactions.

Multiple species of both native fire ants and harvester ants are responsible for nearly all medically significant ant sting incidents that occur in Arizona, and pest management professionals often collect these dangerous ants from residential properties in the state. From March 2002 to March 2004, 237 ant stings were reported to poison control centers and medical professionals in Arizona, and this number does not count sting incidents that occured in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous region. Therefore, the above-stated number of sting incidents is probably less than half the total number of sting incidens statewide during the same period. For comparison, the total number of scorpion sting incidents reported in Arizona (discluding Maricopa County) during the above stated time period was 4,655, while 623 bee and wasp sting incidents were reported.

Have you ever had to visit the ER after sustaining one or more stings from a venomous arthropod?