Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Important Information Residents Need To Know About Bed Bug Bite Symptoms, And Other Medical Consequences Of Living Within Bed Bug-Infested Conditions

Important Information Residents Need To Know About Bed Bug Bite Symptoms, And Other Medical Consequences Of Living Within Bed Bug-Infested Conditions

Bed bugs are one of the very few insect pest species that dwell solely indoors, and luckily, they are also one of the few bloodsucking insect pests that are not known to transmit diseases to humans. According to the Bugs Without Borders research project conducted by the National Pest Management Association, 91 percent of surveyed pest control professionals claim that they address bed bug infestations within single-family homes more often than in any other type of structure. Apartment buildings and condominiums were the second most frequently treated structures, followed by hotels and motels, nursing homes, schools and day care centers, office buildings, college dormitories, hospitals and public transportation.

Adult bed bugs are ¼ of an inch in length, oval in shape, reddish-brown in color, and they are usually flat unless they have just consumed a blood-meal. Bed bugs quickly establish dark hiding spots, or “harborages,” near or on beds, or wherever their human hosts remain stationary for long periods of time. The above mentioned study also found that in most cases bed bug bites serve as the first sign that an infestation has been established. However, bed bug bites do not produce irritating skin reactions in all people, as a recent survey found that only 30 percent of people who had lived within bed bug-infested conditions reported having a skin reaction to bites.

Most people do not notice bed bug bites when they occur because bed bug saliva contains anesthetic compounds that numb the skin. The itchy red bumps that result from bed bugs bites is an allergic reaction to salivary compounds injected into the skin, and these reactions can be delayed for several days. A 2009 study that saw laboratory scientists volunteer to be bitten by bed bugs showed that allergic reactions were delayed for 11 days following the initial bites. A small number of case studies show that highly sensitive individuals may experience a pronounced allergic response to bed bug bites, including asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock. Other case studies have documented secondary infections caused by the excessive itching of bed bug bite wounds. While researchers have found pathogens in and on bed bugs, there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit diseases to humans.

Do you know how you react to bed bug bites?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Western Drywood Termite Inflicts 250 Million Dollars In Structural Damage Annually In The Southwest Alone

More than 20 termite species have been documented as inhabiting Arizona, several of which are known pests of structural wood within homes and buildings. Arizona is home to all three groups of termites known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood. Subterranean termites live in large below-ground colonies that are often composed of several secondary nests that surround the original primary nest where the queen and her eggs reside. These networks of interconnected colonies can span areas larger than a football field below the ground in urban and suburban areas.

Dampwood termite pest species inflict very little structural damage to Arizona homes, making them relatively unimportant as economically damaging pests. Drywood termites are not problematic in most areas of the country, but in the southwest they are almost as destructive as subterranean termites. Since drywood termite colonies are contained entirely within single above ground wood items, like logs and fallen branches, they contain far fewer individuals than subterranean termite colonies. While subterranean termites inflict 80 percent of all termite damage reported in the US annually, the western drywood termite alone inflicts more than one quarter of one billion dollars in structural damage in the southwest every year.

Workers that leave subterranean termite colonies to forage are responsible for initiating infestations within homes. Given their below-ground habitat, subterranean termite workers typically damage substructural wood members that are close to the ground. Their intolerance for dry outside air requires them to build air-tight mud tubes out of a hardening mix of soil, excrement, saliva, and bits of wood. These mud tubes are often found on the exterior foundation walls of infested homes, and they serve as the most common indication that a subterranean termite infestation has been established.

Since only winged reproductive drywood termites (alates) leave colonies to swarm, only they can initiate drywood termite infestations. Since alates are airborne, they can initiate infestations virtually anywhere on or within a home without leaving signs of their presence. This makes drywood termite infestations difficult to both detect and prevent, but some interesting detection methods have been developed, such as infrared imaging devices, acoustic and odor emission detectors, and even termite-sniffing dogs. Housing codes require homes to be built with lumber that has been treated to resist decay and termite attacks, but these protective treatments decay over time, and very few methods of preventing drywood termite infestations have been developed.

Are you aware of any reliable methods of preventing drywood termite infestations?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Do Pest Control Professionals Pinpoint Subterranean Termite Infestations Within Homes, And How Do They Determine If A Home Is Vulnerable To Infestations?

All termite species can be divided into three separate groups known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. As their name suggests, subterranean termites dwell below the ground where workers regularly leave their nest in order to locate food sources. While workers forage through soil, they often stumble upon the base of timber-framed houses located in residential areas. Subterranean termites rely heavily on the constant hydration they receive from moist soil, and exposure to the dry outside air will cause them to dessicate and die. In order to safely access above ground structural wood within homes, workers build airtight “shelter tubes” that connect the moist ground soil with indoor structural wood sources.

Although shelter tubes allow subterranean termites to return to the moist soil whenever they require hydration, subterranean termites generally avoid infesting dry structural wood that is bereft of moisture; instead, subterranean termites prefer to infest structural wood with at least a 20 percent moisture content. During termite inspections, licensed professionals carry a moisture meter, which they use to measure the moisture content of structural wood components. Moisture meters can also be used to measure the moisture content of joists, sills, rafters and other irregularly shaped pieces of wood that are commonly damaged by subterranean termites. Many moisture meters work by inserting pins into wood in order to generate moisture readings, but some meters can remotely measure the moisture content of wood without having to inflict pinholes.

Moisture meters are also useful for gauging the moisture content of the surrounding air. In homes where no moisture problems exist, the moisture content within heated living areas should be between 5 and 10 percent, and between 12 and 19 percent in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces. Moisture readings above 20 percent make homes vulnerable to subterranean termite infestations, and a thorough inspection of wood should be carried out in all indoor areas where moisture levels exceed this figure. In some cases, wood that has become excessively moist must be replaced, and in other cases, setting up a dehumidifier within high-moisture areas within a home can effectively reduce moisture levels. Unusually high moisture levels within homes are often caused by plumbing leaks, improper outdoor drainage systems and rainwater leaks.

Can plumbing or rainwater leaks be found in your home?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

The first recluse spider bite to be properly documented took place in Tennessee back in 1879, and not long afterward, many South American countries began documenting their own cases of recluse spider bites. Although these early documented cases describe the bite victims as developing tissue necrosis at the site of their wound, the severity of recluse spider bites did not become well known to the American public until the latter half of the 20th century. For the past two decades, the rate of medically significant recluse spider bite incidents have been increasing steadily in the US, and most reported bites are sustained within homes. In fact, some recluse spider species, mainly the brown recluse, dwell mainly indoors where thousands have been collected from single homes. Unfortunately, medical researchers have not yet developed an antivenom for brown recluse bites, and unsurprisingly, medical officials in the US and elsewhere consider recluse spiders a major public health threat.

The majority of reported recluse spider bites are inflicted by the brown recluse spider species (Loxosceles reclusa), but a total of 13 recluse spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, five of which can be found in Arizona. The recluse spider species found in Arizona include the desert recluse (L. deserta), the Arizona recluse (L. arizonica), the Apache recluse (L. apache) and L. sabina. Luckily, the indoor-dwelling brown recluse spider cannot be found in Arizona, but numerous scientific studies involving venom analysis and individual envenomation reports demonstrate that all recluse spider species inhabiting the US are equally as likely to inflict bite wounds that lead to tissue necrosis. In addition to the brown recluse, experts state that the Arizona recluse, the desert recluse, and the non-native Mediterranean recluse spider species are medically significant pests of homes in every area where they can be found. The Arizona recluse is abundant in much of the southern half of Arizona where specimens have been documented as inflicting bites that cause tissue necrosis and even shock. The desert recluse is rarely found indoors, as they prefer to dwell in the open desert, but rapidly expanding urban and suburban areas in southern Arizona may force humans and these spiders to share the same habitat in the near future.

Have you ever encountered a recluse spider species in Arizona?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Homeowners Can Determine If Termites Will Attack Structural Wood

How Homeowners Can Determine If The Termites Found Eating Plant Roots, Or Swarming Within Or Near Homes Are Pests That Will Attack Structural Wood

More than 3,000 termite species have been documented worldwide, and all of these species belong to one of three groups. These three groups are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Many species from each of these groups can be found in the US, some of which are pests that infest and damage structural wood within homes and other types of woodwork. Subterranean termites live in colonies below the ground where workers regularly leave the nest to gather food sources. Mature subterranean termite colonies contain tens of thousands to a little more than one million individual termites. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood and dampwood termites live in much smaller colonies that are contained entirely within single above-ground wood items, such as logs, fallen branches, and of course, woodwork. In other words, drywood and dampwood termites constantly inhabit their food source, and only swarming alates leave the nest to establish new colonies, sometimes within homes.

Paraneotermes simplicicornis is the only dampwood termite species that is considered a structural pest in Arizona, but this species, like most dampwood termites, does not inflict much damage to homes. This is because dampwood termites can only feed on excessively moist wood sources like decaying logs. Most structural wood in homes are not nearly moist enough to sustain a dampwood termite colony, but they sometimes find sufficiently moist wood to infest within old homes, or homes where plumbing or rainwater leaks have dampened structural wood. P. simplicornis, or the “desert dampwood termite,” as it is more commonly known, is technically a drywood species, but they exhibit behaviors that are also similar to those of subterranean termites. For example, desert dampwood termites build their nests in shallow soil where they retain moisture by feeding on sap that they extract from the roots of living or partially living shrubs and citrus trees. Naturally, finding termite-damaged trees or shrubs often gives homeowners that impression that their house is next on the menu. If possible, the nymphs (akin to workers) should be extracted from damaged tree roots and identified. If they have distinctly spotted abdomens, then they are desert dampwood termites that will likely not cause damage to homes. These termites swarm between May and September in Arizona, particularly one day after heavy rainfall. When swarms occur within or near homes, the dead alates that collect on the ground should be identified. If alates are more than an inch long and are dark brown, they are likely desert dampwood termite alates that should not be feared.

Have you ever found termite damaged landscape plants in your yard?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How To Recognize Longhorn Crazy Ant Workers That Forage Within Homes, And Why These Ants Are Common And Hard To Control

Paratrechina longicornis is an ant species that has become a well established household pest in the southern US states, including the entirety of Arizona. According to a 2006 study that followed pest control service calls, P. longicornis was the 12th most commonly collected ant pest species around homes in Phoenix, and it was the 7th most commonly collected ant pest species around homes in Tucson, making it more common than Pharaoh ants in residential areas of southern Arizona. P. longicornis is more commonly known as the “longhorn crazy ant,” azy ant workers can be recognized for their grey to black bodies that measure ⅛ of an inch in length. Workers also possess long legs and relatively long body hairs.

Longhorn crazy ant workers travel long distances from their nest while searching for food sources, and they move erratically along seemingly random trails, making their nests difficult to eliminate. The longhorn crazy ant may be the most widely distributed ant species in the world, as its small size allows it to crawl into commercial goods that travel overseas. Their small size and fast movements also allow them to get into every nook and cranny within a home, from the basement to the attic. It is not uncommon for longhorn crazy ant workers to establish nesting sites within electronic devices, such as television sets, appliances and computers.

Although longhorn crazy ants invade homes in massive numbers, making them one of the most difficult ant pests to control, they do not damage property or inflict harmful bites or stings. They do possess an organ known as an acedapore that sprays formic acid, but this defense capability is not harmful or that painful to humans. These ants nest within wall voids and other inaccessible areas, and multiple methods are needed to control single infestations, including a monitoring system, bait, and minimal amounts of insecticide.

Have you ever experienced a longhorn crazy ant infestation?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The High Noon Ant Is One Of The Most Common Ant Pests Of Homes In Arizona Where They Seek Out Sweet Foods Within Homes And Occasionally Inflict Bites

The High Noon Ant Is One Of The Most Common Ant Pests Of Homes In Arizona Where They Seek Out Sweet Foods Within Homes And Occasionally Inflict Bites

Forelius pruinosus is an ant species that is known to be a common pest of homes in southern Arizona. A study carried out by university entomologists found that F. pruinosus was the second most common ant pest of homes in Phoenix and the fourth most common ant pest of homes in Tucson. Workers of this species made up 18 percent of the ants collected by pest control professionals during service calls in Phoenix. Unlike virtually all insect pests, F. pruinosus did not have a common name until somewhat recently.

Back in 2013, entomologists allowed the public to submit potential common names for F. pruinosus through Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Only names that reflected the species’ appearance, habits, or overall nature were considered. Entomologists eventually settled on the “high noon ant” as the common name for F. pruinosus, as this heat-loving species is unique for foraging in the desert at noon when the sun is at its highest.

The high noon ant is active in both natural and disturbed environments, and infestations typically see foraging workers enter homes from outside nests, but they are capable of nesting indoors as well. Workers are aggressive and will readily bite humans, but they do not possess a stinger. Workers are relatively small, as they measure between 1.8 and 2.5 mm in body length and their color varies from light brown to dark brown. Workers naturally feed on honeydew, and they invade homes to seek out food sources, especially sweets, and sometimes meats.

Colonies contain multiple queens which are 5 to 6 mm in body length. Queens frequently leave nests in order to establish their own colonies elsewhere, but these ants also establish new colonies by swarming during the summer months. These ants nest in soil beneath wood piles and rocks, and they are often found nesting within tree stumps and logs. All nests that are associated with infestations must be located and treated in order to fully eliminate workers from homes and prevent reinfestations. Luckily, workers of this species follow fixed foraging trails, which allows humans to easily follow these ant pests back to their nesting sites.

Have you ever experienced an ant infestation that required pinpointing and destroying multiple nests?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Residents Can Make Bed Bugs Easier For Pest Control Professionals To Manage

How Residents Can Make Bed Bugs Easier For Pest Control Professionals To Manage

Along with termites, German cockroaches, and many ant species, bed bugs are the most difficult insect pests to control. Termites are difficult to control because they cannot be readily observed, most ant pests are difficult to control because they live in colonies containing thousands of workers that often establish multiple indoor nests. Cockroaches and bed bugs are both difficult to control due to the resistance they have developed to most insecticide formulations. Insecticide resistance in certain insect pests is one of several reasons as to why insecticides are no longer the primary method of pest control. In recent years, many effective non-toxic pest control methods have been developed. For example, high-heat treatments have become the standard for bed bug control, and insect growth regulators have proven effective for controlling German cockroaches. When it comes to both cockroaches and bed bugs, infestations can sometimes be eliminated without the use of any insecticides, but when it comes to heavy infestations, a minimal amount of insecticide is sometimes used to supplement other control methods.

When bed bugs are found within homes, professional pest control intervention is almost always required, but this does not mean that homeowners don’t play a role. For example, before pest control professionals arrive at a home to perform treatments, it is important for homeowners to make sure that the interior living space is well sanitized and free of clutter. While bed bugs are not necessarily more partial to cluttered homes, bed bugs do tend to establish more extensive infestations within cluttered homes. This is because bed bugs use dirty clothes, boxes, papers, and other objects that litter indoor floors as hiding spots, or “harborages.” The number of bed bugs within infested homes usually correlates with the number of potential harborages within homes. It’s also important to use caulk or another sealant product to cover cracks, crevices and other potential bed bug entry points on walls where the pests are well known to establish harborages. Infestations become tremendously difficult to eliminate once bed bugs become abundant within wall voids. If bed bugs are already present within wall voids, sealing them inside will result in their eventual death. So no matter where in a home bed bugs have become established, sealing access to potential harborages will help to reduce population numbers, which will also make the job of pest control professionals much less complicated.

Have you ever contacted a pest control professional about a bed bug pest issue in your home?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Thief Ants Are Common Indoor Pests That Are Known To Contaminate Stored Foods Within Homes

Solenopsis molesta, more commonly known as the “thief ant,” is one of the most commonly managed fly pests of homes, and they can be found in every state. A few ants that belong to the Solenopsis genus are the most venomous and medically significant ant species in the US. These dangerous ants include red-imported fire ants, black-imported fire ants, southern fire ants, and tropical fire ants. Although thief ants also belong to the Solenopsis genus, they are not considered dangerous, but they are a tremendous nuisance when they invade homes. Thief ant workers often invade homes to seek out food sources, particularly meat products.

In the natural environment, thief ants live in fields and meadows, but colonies are quite common in urban and suburban areas as well. Thief ants build nests in the ground soil, and one colony can establish several nesting sites that are interconnected by tunnels excavated by workers. Unfortunately, these ants can also establish nests within homes, usually in wall voids, base­ments, under base­boards, or in foun­da­tions. Thief ants feed on insects, honeydew, and seeds, but in urban and suburban areas, these ants regularly seek out food sources within homes. In homes, thief ants consume a variety of human foods, such as meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, sweets, an­i­mal fat, and dairy prod­ucts. Thief ants are commonly referred to as “grease ants” due to their habit of feeding on grease within homes.

Thief ants invade homes at a consistent rate throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons in Arizona, and they can be hard to keep out due to their excessively small size. Thief ant workers that forage within homes are between 1 ½ mm to 2 mm in size, and they have a yellow body with a brown colored head. Their small size allows them to invade stored food products within pantries and kitchen cupboards where they contaminate food with pathogens. In fact, the thief ant is on the “dirty 22” list of insect species that are known to spread pathogens to human food sources. The dirty 22 list was compiled by the Food and Drug Administration to raise awareness about the disease threat posed by common insect pests of homes.

Have you ever found ants in your stored food products?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Black Polycaon Is The Most Common False Powderpost Beetle Pest In The Southwest

The Black Polycaon Is The Most Common False Powderpost Beetle Pest In The Southwest, And They Are Known For Infesting Wood In Furniture And Structural Lumber In Homes

More than 700 species make up the Bostrichidae family of beetles, and a small minority of these species are known pests of structural wood within homes and buildings. Beetle species in this family are commonly referred to as “false powderpost beetles,” and the most common species that infest and damage homes in the southwest are known as the leadcable borer (Scobicia declivis) and the black Polycaon (Polycaon stoutii). The other two families of wood-boring beetles known as powderpost and deathwatch beetles, see female adults deposit their eggs within crevices on the surface of wood. Once these eggs hatch, the emerging larvae bore into wood where they excavate interior tunnels, resulting in significant and costly structural damage. Unlike powderpost and deathwatch beetles, female adults in the false powderpost beetle family deposit their eggs within a tunnel that they themselves excavate. From there, emerging larvae continue to excavate tunnels and feed on wood, just like powderpost and deathwatch beetles.

The black polycaon is a relatively large species, as adults are between ½ and 1 inch in body length, and they are shiny black with front legs that stick out at right angles from the body. This species usually attacks softwoods, particularly plywood, but they have been found infesting hardwoods as well, such as oak furniture. Larvae rely on nutrients in wood for sustenance during their development, and once they reach adulthood, they carve out an exit hole around ¼ of an inch wide on the surface of infested wood. Maturation from egg to adult may take one year, or several years depending on conditions, and they are abundant in the natural environment in the southwest. Infestations are often initiated in structural wood after adult females gravitate toward porch lights and indoor lights. These beetles usually infest processed woods before they are used to construct furniture and other wooden items. Infested items can be treated with high heat, freezing temperatures, or fumigation, and heavy infestations within structural wood components in homes may require full-structure fumigation.

Have you ever purchased a wooden furniture item that had been infested with wood-boring beetles?