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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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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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Millipedes Can Invade Arizona Homes Where They Sometimes Spray A Painful And Irritating Compounds Onto Human Skin

Millipedes Can Invade Arizona Homes Where They Sometimes Spray A Painful And Irritating Compounds Onto Human Skin

Many Arizona residents have likely encountered large and intimidating centipedes within rural and suburban habitats, and few residents have managed to avoid encounters with common house centipedes. Millipedes look similar to centipedes and they are commonly spotted within urban, rural and residential yards. It is not uncommon for millipedes to infest homes in Arizona in large numbers. Once millipedes enter homes in the state they often gravitate to dark corners where residents often sustain chemical burns from millipede secretions. The millipede species, Orthoporus ornatus, has probably been encountered around homes, in parks or just about any natural environment where soil can be found. The common Orthoporus ornatus millipede species, which is more commonly referred to as the “desert millipede,” is also considered a household pest in Arizona, and it is not uncommon for residents to sustain chemical burns after accidentally or deliberately making contact with these arthropods within and near homes.

The desert millipede is often found within residential yards in large numbers following storms during monsoon season, and these millipede pests often move into homes where internal moisture levels can sustain the species. An abundance of vegetation growth alongside foundations provide moist conditions that are ideal for desert millipedes and once large number become established around a home’s foundation, preventing the millipedes from moving indoors can be difficult. Millipedes may also feed on ornamental and garden flowers, but the damage they inflict to these aesthetically appreciated plants is usually minimal, even within yards that become highly infested. This species favors cholla, creosote bush, ocotillo, and mesquite forms of decaying plant material for feeding purposes. The desert millipede often curls its 6 inch long body into a coil in response to threats. Unfortunately, this US millipede species is unique for its ability to spray a painful toxic secretion as far as ten feet within a home. If this secretion makes contact with the eyes, partial or complete blindness can result. This species toxic defensive secretion contains benzoquinones, aldehydes, hydrocyanic acid, phenols, terpenoids, nitromethylbenzene, and other substances. However, serious burns and skin discoloration resulting from skin contact with this millipede’s sections are rarely reported, and in many cases, Arizona residents keep them as pests.

Have you ever found a desert millipede specimen within 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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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?

 

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Where In Arizona Are Recluse Spider Species Distributed? Has The Notorious Brown Recluse Species Been Documented In The State?

Where In Arizona Are Recluse Spider Species Distributed? Has The Notorious Brown Recluse Species Been Documented In The State?

While the vast majority of documented spider species within the United States do not inflict medically significant bites to humans, the brown recluse is not one of them. The notorious brown recluse spider has not always been categorized as a spider of medical significance, but after years of ignoring well documented cases detailing extremely dangerous, and in some rare cases, fatal physical reactions that had resulted from this spider’s bite, the medical community came together and announced that the brown recluse is, in fact, a threat to human health. However, misinformation concerning the brown recluse and other recluse spider species is still widespread in the US today. For example, entomologists working at state extension offices often receive calls from people who believe that they had sustained a brown recluse bite despite the fact that many of these worried citizens live well outside of the spider’s range. It is not uncommon for some media sources to claim that brown recluse spiders exist with Arizona, but this is not the case. While Arizona is home to multiple recluse species that, in rare cases, have been known to inflict medically significant bites to humans, the brown recluse species does not inhabit the state.

The United States is home to at least 11 recluse spider species, and the brown recluse, L. reclusa, is the most widespread as well as the most dangerous. The brown recluse species is distributed in the midwest and the mid-south with the US. States where the brown recluse can be found include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and several other neighboring states. Arizona is home to five recluse spider species, two of which, the Arizona brown spider and desert recluse, may inflict medically significant bites to humans, but such incidents are exceptionally rare, and not fully substantiated. Recluse spiders in Arizona dwell in the far southern and far western portions of the state.

Have you ever encountered a recluse spiders species within your home or garage?