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The Small Flies That Arizona Residents Often Mistake For Fleas Or Chiggers

Flies are disgusting and annoying insect pests that are, unfortunately, all to common within homes. In Arizona, one of the most common fly pests belonging to the Diptera order are commonly known as no-see-ums, also known as sandflies or biting midges. No-see-ums belong to the Ceratopogonidae family, which consists of more than 5,000 species that span all regions of the world, even polar regions. The no-see-ums that exist in Arizona and the rest of the southwest belong to the Culicoides genus. This genus includes species that are known for facilitating the spread of disease. While no-see-ums in Arizona are not considered disease vectors, they can still spread disease causing bacteria to humans and human food sources. When these insects bite, their saliva is injected into the human bloodstream, causing initial pain and lasting irritation. Persistent scratching of bite wounds has been known to lead to infection.

No-see-ums are nearly invisible to the naked eye, and they are sometimes referred to as gnats. Despite their small size, these insects are known for inflicting painful and irritating bites. Each year, entomologists who specialize in pest control at the University of Arizona’s extension office receive numerous calls from residents who believe that they have been bitten by fleas or chiggers. However, after discussing the bite wounds and symptoms with residents, the entomologists learn that these residents were actually bitten by no-see-ums.

Since no-see-ums are no larger than 1/16 of an inch in body length, they can easily fly through window screens before biting residents within their homes. The presence of these insects are virtually impossible to prevent within homes, but keeping garbage and open food sources minimal can go a long way to prevent these insects from becoming an issue within homes. No-see-ums are most active in Arizona during the summer months in the morning and early afternoon.

Have you ever found what you believe were no-see-ums within your home?

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The Small Flies That Arizona Residents Often Mistake For Fleas Or Chiggers

Flies are disgusting and annoying insect pests that are, unfortunately, all to common within homes. In Arizona, one of the most common fly pests belonging to the Diptera order are commonly known as no-see-ums, also known as sandflies or biting midges. No-see-ums belong to the Ceratopogonidae family, which consists of more than 5,000 species that span all regions of the world, even polar regions. The no-see-ums that exist in Arizona and the rest of the southwest belong to the Culicoides genus. This genus includes species that are known for facilitating the spread of disease. While no-see-ums in Arizona are not considered disease vectors, they can still spread disease causing bacteria to humans and human food sources. When these insects bite, their saliva is injected into the human bloodstream, causing initial pain and lasting irritation. Persistent scratching of bite wounds has been known to lead to infection.

No-see-ums are nearly invisible to the naked eye, and they are sometimes referred to as gnats. Despite their small size, these insects are known for inflicting painful and irritating bites. Each year, entomologists who specialize in pest control at the University of Arizona’s extension office receive numerous calls from residents who believe that they have been bitten by fleas or chiggers. However, after discussing the bite wounds and symptoms with residents, the entomologists learn that these residents were actually bitten by no-see-ums.

Since no-see-ums are no larger than 1/16 of an inch in body length, they can easily fly through window screens before biting residents within their homes. The presence of these insects are virtually impossible to prevent within homes, but keeping garbage and open food sources minimal can go a long way to prevent these insects from becoming an issue within homes. No-see-ums are most active in Arizona during the summer months in the morning and early afternoon.

Have you ever found what you believe were no-see-ums within your home?

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How to Silence Constantly Chirping Crickets

While many people find the sound the chirping crickets pleasant enough, it can begin to grate on a person when they are trying to catch some z’s while a cricket is playing its melody in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, crickets are also just about impossible to track down, as they are incredibly sensitive to movement, and thus immediately cease playing their music when you move to find them in the dark. And while their chirping may seem to drive you insane at night, it is their tendency to eat anything they come across, including clothing, paper, fungi, other dead bugs, leafy vegetables, and even other crickets, in your home that can really turn them into a pest. In addition to this, they attract other visitors to your home that are a more serious problem such as their natural predators, scorpions and spiders.

Ideally, you want to prevent crickets from ever entering your home in the first place. You can do this by removing possible nesting spots around the outside of your home such as piles of wood, leaf litter, and rock piles. Make sure your landscaping stops a good six inches from your houses exterior walls, cutting back bushes and any other ground cover. Outdoor clutter also works as great nesting places, so get rid of any clutter left in your yard such as cardboard boxes, tarps, and pool toys. Damp moist areas will draw crickets, as they prefer to hide from the blistering Arizona sun in these areas. Make sure to seal any cracks or small crevices in your walls and around windows and doors, and cover vents with mesh to prevent crickets from slipping inside. If you do find a nest in your walls, it is likely hundreds of crickets will come pouring out after you spray it with pest spray.

If crickets have already entered your home, there are a few ways you can try and rid yourself of them before calling in the pest control professionals. Getting rid of any sources of food and water is one way to handle the situation. Just like humans, they need food and water to survive. Eliminate any possible sources of water around your home and make sure there are no damp corners hiding in any rooms. Since crickets can survive on just about anything, even sawdust and glue, you need to meticulously clean any areas you think chirping is coming from. Take away their food and water, and the crickets will often move on to greener pastures. Crickets also prefer and are most active in warm temperatures, thriving between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can try lowering the temperature in your home or placing a portable air conditioner in any area you think the chirping is coming from and the cold temperature should make them lethargic, hopefully getting them to stop their chirping. If your infestation is too serious to deal with on your own, then call in the pest control professionals to get the job done right.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of crickets?

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Can The Giant Redheaded Centipede Be Found In Arizona?

Centipedes are unpleasant creatures, and most species inflict venomous and painful bites to humans. Most people do not often have contact with centipedes, except of course for the common house centipede, which can be found all over North America where they commonly infest homes. These centipedes rarely grow beyond an inch in a half, and given how unsettling these creatures are, you can imagine how unpleasant it must be to spot a centipede exceeding 8 inches in length. Unfortunately, one such species that grows this large can be found in Arizona, but luckily, the species does not enter households as often as the house centipede in the state. This species is commonly known as the “redheaded centipede,” or the “giant desert centipede,” and their massive size allows them to feed on lizards, frogs and rodents. As you can imagine, sustaining a bite from one of these centipede species is extremely unpleasant. In fact, one redheaded centipede specimen was recently found to have killed a snake.

The redheaded centipede can be found in the southwest desert regions of the US, but the species is also found in Louisiana, proving that it does not have a problem surviving in humid conditions. This species even prefers to dwell in dark and humid areas, which is why stumbling across a specimen in your basement is not out of the question. It’s best for people to avoid this centipede species entirely, as their penetrating bite alone is painful, let alone the stinging sensation produced by the venom. This species’ mouthparts consists of two large fangs that can easily pierce skin. In most bite cases, victims develop local swelling and pain that subsides within a matter of days, but some rare cases have seen bite victims experience systemic symptoms, such as nausea and headaches. Fatalities due to this species’ bite is not impossible, as one bite case saw a man die from a heart attack.

Have you ever spotted a centipede that you believe exceeded 6 inches?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Have you found any spiders within your home this summer?

 

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Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

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

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

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

 

 

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A Citywide Outbreak Of Odorous Stink Beetles Perplex And Disgust Residents

A Citywide Outbreak Of Odorous Stink Beetles Perplex And Disgust Residents

Beetles may be the most species-rich group of insects on the planet, and many beetle species have been categorized as pests. However, most beetle pests infest and damage trees and plants, as many gardeners have come to learn. Very few beetle pests invade homes, and beetle epidemics that see thousands of specimens invading homes and business in large cities are unheard of, well almost unheard of, anyway. Last April, massive amounts of beetles laid siege to residential and urban areas of Bullhead City. The worst aspect of this invasion was the foul-smelling defensive fluids that the beetles secrete when they become threatened or when they are squished.

Last spring, residents of Bullhead City could not help but notice the abundance of beetle corpses and live beetles littering parking lots, residential lawns, parks and busy streets. Many of the beetles found their way indoors, and the ones that didn’t rapidly succumbed to dehydration. According to one pest control expert, all the beetles that had been found in the city resulted from unusually high moisture levels that persisted since the beginning of the year in the northwest region of Arizona. The frequent bouts of rain during the winter and the consequent overgrowth of vegetation during the spring caused the beetles to invade the city en masse.

Employees at a local Ace Hardware store removed both dead and live beetles from the area surrounding the store for weeks. Thousands of beetles could be seen outside Kohl’s and Target where corpses became so abundant that the parking lot became slippery in some places. Many dogs and cats in the city quickly learned that the beetles make for a lousy meal, as several pet owners claimed that their dog or cat quickly spat a beetle out quickly after collecting it from the ground. The reason the pets did this is due to this particular beetle species’ defensive secretions. The beetles in question are known as “desert stink beetles” in Arizona, as the beetles are well known to gather around outside lights during the spring, summer and fall. The defensive fluid secreted by these beetles causes intolerable irritation, providing these beetles with an ideal way to avoid being eaten alive.

Have you ever caught a whiff of smelly odors secreted by insects?