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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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Mayflies And Caddisflies Can Trigger Severe Allergic Reactions In Humans

The insects known as caddisflies and mayflies are abundant in Arizona. These two insects dwell and breed near natural water bodies, and it is not uncommon for mayflies and caddisflies to swarm large populated areas located near lakes and rivers. For example, back in 2015, massive swarms of caddisflies terrorized residents of Bullhead City. This Arizona city is located near the Colorado River, so residents were used to occasional caddisfly swarms. However, the summer of 2015 saw repeat swarms that were so unpleasant that real estate prices in the city dropped drastically, as nobody wanted to retire to the city knowing about the swarms. Mayfly swarms can also be a nuisance for Arizona residents, as one resident of Oak Creek reported a mayfly swarm as large as 30 by 30 meters. At the moment, residents located near Lake Erie in Ohio are being bombarded with repeat mayfly swarms that are literally covering houses. These swarms are large enough to be picked up on weather radar. While it is well known that both caddisflies and mayflies can be a nuisance, their negative effect on human health is not so well known. Much like cockroaches and dust mites, mayflies and caddisflies are two arthropods that can induce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. In some cases, these insects can induce asthma attacks, hives, skin irritation and eczema.

Given the caddisflies appearance, it should not be surprising to learn that they are closely related to moths and butterflies. Much like moths and butterflies, caddisfly wings are covered in easily detachable scales that serve as airborne allergens. These scales are a source of both indoor and outdoor allergens, and inhaling these scales can induce asthma attacks. Mayflies, on the other hand, do not spread airborne allergens; instead, the discarded skins shed by mayflies serve as environmental allergens. Although their discarded skins are not as readily airborne as the dust-like scales on caddisfly wings, these discarded skins can be blown about in the wind, making it easy for people to inhale this allergen. Mayfly allergens have been shown to induce seasonal asthma symptoms and eczema. Once case report describes in individual who developed “huge” hives as a result of making contact with mayfly allergens. Keeping these insects out of homes is particularly important to prevent the development of allergies or the worsening of existing allergies.

Have you ever witnessed a caddisfly or mayfly swarm?

 

 

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How Doctors Treat The 5,000 Scorpion Stings That Are Reported In Arizona Each Year

How Doctors Treat The 5,000 Scorpion Stings That Are Reported In Arizona Each Year

Bark scorpions are abundant in Mexico and Arizona, and limited populations exist in neighboring states. In Arizona, the bark scorpion is most abundant in the southern half of the state, as this species is not capable of surviving the higher altitude areas of northern Arizona. The only northern bark scorpion habitat in the state exists at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and this species is abundant in and around Las Vegas, southern New Mexico and southwest Texas as well. The bark scorpion is the only scorpion species in the United States that can inflict medically significant stings. The venom produced by this species can be fatal in rare cases, but only four deaths have occurred over the past 11 years as a result of bark scorpion stings in the US. This is not the case in Mexico where bark scorpions kill 1,000 people every year. The reason for this disparity is largely due to the lack of available health care in highly-populated rural areas of Mexico. However, considering that 5,000 bark scorpion envenomation cases are reported in Arizona each year, one would expect a higher fatality rate in the state. Luckily, all hospitals and health care facilities in Arizona are well stocked with bark scorpion antivenom, so when potentially fatal stings do occur, an antidote is not far away.

When bark scorpion sting victims report to an emergency room, doctors first apply ice to the sting wound while also administering acetaminophen or narcotic painkillers to reduce the pain. Serious allergic reactions to bark scorpion stings, such as anaphylactic shock, are rare, but if a doctor finds that a sting victim has a history of allergic reactions to arthropod venom, then measures are taken to prevent the victim from experiencing anaphylactic shock, which is the cause of most bark scorpion fatalities. The University of Arizona keeps an abundance of antivenom vials available for residents who sustain bark scorpion stings. In order to prevent severe systemic symptoms, antivenom should be administered within one hour following a bark scorpion sting. Bark scorpion antivenoms are somewhat controversial, as the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved of its use. This prevents bark scorpion antivenom from being transported over state lines, therefore, Arizona is the only US state where bark scorpion antivenom is readily available. In many cases, doctors spend time observing the patient for severe systemic symptoms before administering antivenom.

If you were to sustain a bark scorpion sting, would you want antivenom to be administered as soon as possible?

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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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Repeat Fly Invasions Within A Phoenix Healthcare Facility Caused Maggots To Take Form Within A Patient’s Wound

Repeat Fly Invasions Within A Phoenix Healthcare Facility Caused Maggots To Take Form Within A Patient’s Wound

Not long ago, Arizona lawmakers passed a law requiring all intermediate healthcare facilities in the state to be licensed. A recent and deplorable insect infestation case at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix proves that this law was most certainly in order, as a patient in the facility was found to be literally infested with maggots. The maggots were found nesting within an existing wound on the body of a 28 year-old male patient. In response to this disturbing find, the Arizona Department of Health Services has issued an intent to revoke the facility’s license.

The health services department has accused Hacienda HealthCare as providing grossly inadequate care to its patients. Officials claimed that immediate action is necessary in order to protect patients within the facility from neglect that could possibly result in worsening medical conditions. The maggots were found after a respiratory therapist at the facility found 6 to 12 maggots beneath the patient’s wound dressing. Staff working at the facility claimed that the maggots probably resulted from the patient’s alleged “poor hygiene,” needless to say, this claim was not received well considering the facility’s lengthy record of inadequate patient care. The spokesperson, David Liebowitz further claimed that a “small number” of maggots were found in the man’s wound on wednesday and then a few more were found on thursday. In other words, the presence of maggots in the patient’s wound went ignored by the staff. However, Liebowits also claimed that maggots have not been found on any other patients in the facility.

Despite the purported cause of the maggot infestation as resulting from the victim’s poor hygiene, the department of health quickly learned that several pest control professionals have been in and out of the facility for weeks in an effort to control a fly infestation. Flies had become a problem in the facility due to the installation of blower fans which allowed the flies easy access into the facility. Ironically, the fans that were being installed are meant to prevent flies and other airborne insects from entering the facility. Liebowitz later stated that the maggot presence in the man’s wound was caused by the fly infestation.

Have you ever heard of flies placing their eggs within human body cavities or wounds?

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How Many Widow Spiders Exist In Arizona

While black widow spiders are well known for inflicting painful and medically significant bites to humans, the spiders are not well understood by the public. This is true even in Arizona where the highly venomous spiders can be found on occasion within homes. Internet sites happen to be one of the most significant sources of disinformation concerning black widow spiders. For example, a quick Google search will tell you that “22 types” of black widows can be found just within the city limits of Phoenix and Tucson. However, the United States is home to only 3 “black widow” species, while only one single black widow species, not 22, can be found within the state of Arizona. This species is known as Latrodectus hesperus, or the western black widow, as it is more commonly called. It should also be noted that black widows are categorized in the genus Latrodectus, also known as “widow spiders.” In all, only two widow spider species can be found in Arizona. The other species being the recently introduced “brown widow.”

Black widows are often considered their own species because all three species in the US are referred to by the same common name. These three species are commonly known as southern black widows, western black widows, and northern black widows. Both southern and northern black widows can be found in the eastern half of the US. The southern variety is most often found in areas east of Texas and up north to Virginia, while the northern black widow’s habitat is largely limited to the entire eastern seaboard and into parts of the midwest. The western black widow can be found along the west coast, particularly in the desert southwest. In addition to the western black widow species, another widow species that is not native to the US has been found along the southernmost border of the country. This species is commonly referred to as the brown widow, and it is not known to many residents of Arizona because it has only recently been found in the state. The brown widow was most likely introduced accidentally into the region via shipments of plant matter. Finally, the red widow is a species that can only be found in southern Florida. So far, a total of 31 widow species have been found worldwide.

Have you ever spotted a western black widow within your home? Were you  aware that a non-native widow spider species exists within Arizona?

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The Most To Least Common Arthropod Home Invaders

Once the spring begins in Arizona, the arthropod pests come marching into homes. These arthropod pests include potentially dangerous striped bark scorpions, termites, millipedes, ants, earwigs, cockroaches, ground beetles, flies, mosquitoes and even ticks. According to Dr. Kirk Smith with the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department, the Arizona summer weather can become hot enough that even the deserts hardiest arthropods will enter homes in large numbers in search of respite. This is especially true in southern Arizona cities and towns like Yuma, Bisbee, Tucson and Phoenix, as the weather, the lower altitudes and higher arthropod pest populations can reach temperatures exceeding 115 degrees on the worst days. Once the heat exceeds three digit figures, a wealth of arthropods can begin to struggle for survival.

Although scorpions are generally considered to be among the most adaptive arachnids that exist solely because many species dwell within harsh desert environments, all scorpion species have a limit when it comes to the amount of heat that they can take. The scorpion species most commonly found within homes in Arizona also happens to be the most dangerous to humans. This species is known as the bark scorpion, and they have a long rich history of invading homes within residential areas of southern Arizona. While scorpions are commonly thought to be the deadliest arthropods in Arizona, that title actually belongs to Africanized honey bees (AKA killer bees). Unfortunately, just about all honey bees in Arizona are hybrids of killer bees and common European honey bees. While the majority of beehives exist outdoors, it is not uncommon for Africanized killer bees to establish nests within wall-voids or outside on trees located in neighborhoods. If you should find a hive, move indoors immediately, and call a pest control professional to have the hive safely removed. Typically, ticks do not infest indoor areas, but unfortunately, the brown dog tick in an exception, and this species can be found within Arizona homes. It should also be mentioned that southern Arizona is one of the few geographic areas where brown dog ticks can transmit disease to humans, but such cases are rare in the state.

Have you ever stumbled upon a beehive in Arizona?

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Which Flea Species Exist In Arizona? And Which Species Are Most Commonly Found Infesting Homes In The State?

Fleas are well known insect pests that are distributed all over the world. Most people are not aware that more than 2,000 flea species have been documented worldwide, and 300 species have been documented within the United States. In the US, the cat flea is the most common domestic tick species. While ticks are well known for being nuisance pests that can inflict irritating bites, the insects are also a public health concern due to their ability to transmit disease-causing pathogens to humans. The flea species that can be found in Arizona include the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), the Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis), the sticktight flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea) and the human flea (Pulex irritans).

Fleas can be hard to notice due to their small size and fast jumping movements that give some people the impression that they fly, but fleas do not possess wings. Most flea species are light brown to dark brown in color and they possess hard flattened bodies that allow them to move rapidly through animal fur and feathers. Fleas are clearly designed to be external parasitic insect pests on animal bodies, but many species will not pass up an opportunity to feed on human blood as well. Fleas also possess rigide comb-like hairs that allow them to remain attached to the external body of animals and humans. This makes fleas difficult to remove by scratching at skin or combing through animal hair. Not only can fleas carry disease-causing pathogens to humans, but they are also direct disease vectors, meaning their bites alone can transmit pathogenic microbes into the human bloodstream. Fleas lay their eggs onto their human and animal hosts, but these eggs eventually slide off and land on nearby surroundings, making many species potential indoor pests. Once fleas mature into larvae, they remain hidden within cracks, bedding and furniture in homes. Both larval and adult fleas feed on blood.

Have you ever spotted fleas within your home?

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The Giant Water Bug Swarm Around Porch Lights Where They Can Inflict Painful And Possibly Toxic Bites On Humans

The Giant Water Bug Swarms Around Porch Lights Where They Can Inflict Painful And Possibly Toxic Bites On Humans

Giant water bugs are airborne aquatic insects that regularly fly to new water sources that are often located near residential and urban habitats. These insects dwell within small and shallow bodies of water such as creeks and ponds, and they are also known for swarming around porch lights, which is often a terrifying nuisance to homeowners given the massive size of these aptly named insects. Many giant water bug species grow to be more than three inches as adults, and multiple species exist within Arizona, but the precise number and identity of species dwelling in the state is a matter of debate among experts. In addition to being large, annoying and frightening to look at, water bugs also inflict extremely painful bites. In fact, several species have been found to possess saliva that causes severe medical symptoms in human bite victims, and at least one of these potentially dangerous water bug species inhabits Arizona.

The L. americanus species of water bug is the most documented and likely the most abundant of all water bug species within the United States. This species is commonly known by multiple nicknames including the “electric light bug”, and as already mentioned, the “giant water bug”. The giant water bug can reach lengths of nearly 2.5 inches, which makes them hard to ignore when they gravitate toward outside light sources in urban and residential areas. Another water bug species that is found within the southern US is the L. uhleri species. Two other water bug species, L. medians and L. griseus, can also be found in Arizona. All North American water bug species swarm toward porch and street lights, but the L. uhleri and L. griseus species are the most commonly spotted species around artificial light sources in residential and urban areas. Recently, seven cases of human water bug bites have been documented in hospitals. The bite victims developed body numbness and intolerable pain following a water bug bite, and research shows that the saliva that these insects produce is toxic enough to cause paralysis in humans. However, very little has been published about water bugs in medical literature, and no case reports detailing human paralysis in response to water bug bites have been published. Studies concerning the toxic effect of water bug saliva on humans are currently being carried out at Arizona State University.

Have you ever encountered an enormous insect hovering around your porch light?

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Whip Scorpions Are Among The Largest Arachnids Commonly Found In Arizona Homes, But They Are Not As Menacing As They Appear To Be

Whip Scorpions Are Among The Largest Arachnids Commonly Found In Arizona Homes, But They Are Not As Menacing As They Appear To Be

One of the largest arachnids found in Arizona is the tailless whip scorpion. At first glance, whip scorpions look like large spiders, but upon closer inspection, a whip scorpion may look like a mix between a spider and a scorpion. In reality, whip scorpions are neither spiders or scorpions; instead, whip scorpions belong to the Amblypygi order of arachnids. The tailless whip scorpion species found in southern Arizona, P. mexicanus, grows to be around 1 to 2 inches in body length, but their long legs can make them appear much larger. Luckily, whip scorpions do not possess a stinger or pincers, but their long front legs are easily mistaken for pincers. Whip scorpions can use their mouthparts to inflict a pinch to human skin, but these arachnids are not considered medically significant pests to humans, and they do not possess venom glands. Although whip scorpions prefer to dwell beneath tree bark, hollow logs, pre-constructed animal burrows and even termite nests, these bizarre-looking arachnids are sometimes found within homes, particularly in basements and below sinks.

Whip scorpions remain hidden beneath rocks, tree bark and leaf litter during the daytime, but at night, these nocturnal arachnids hunt for prey in the dark by using a pair of front legs as a sensory organ. These arachnids are sometimes found crawling vertically along walls within homes, but they are found more frequently within largely uninhabited structures, like garages, barns, pool houses and sheds. Whip scorpions can be hard to capture and/or kill due to their fast crawling speeds, and they are capable of crawling sideways. Despite being completely harmless to humans, it is not uncommon for pest control professionals to get calls from spooked homeowners who describe the arachnid’s unusual appearance, and how they can be kept out of homes. Therefore, whip scorpions are merely aesthetic insect pests within homes.

Have you ever found a whip scorpion within your home or other structure?