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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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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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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?

 

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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?

 

 

 

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The Home-Infesting Brown Dog Tick Is Only Able To Transmit Disease To Humans Within A Region Of Arizona

The Home-Infesting Brown Dog Tick Is Only Able To Transmit Disease To Humans Within A Region Of Arizona

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks are the only disease-spreading arthropods in the US that public health officials are unable to control. As most Americans know, ticks are most abundant in the northeast, making tick-borne disease cases particularly frequent in the region. Because of this, most Americans consider residents of the northeast to be at the greatest risk of falling victim to tick-borne diseases. However, very few people are aware of the tick-borne disease threat facing Arizona residents, including Arizona residents themselves.

It may shock Arizonans to learn that they are living within the only state where the brown dog tick species is capable of transmitting disease to humans. In addition to this little-known factoid, the brown dog tick is also the only tick species in the world that is able to reproduce and survive all life-cycles indoors. In other words, Arizona is the only state where brown dog ticks can both spread disease and infest homes. Arizonans should also note that the disease spread by brown dog ticks in Arizona, Rocky Mountain-spotted fever (RMSF), is being transmitted to more and more residents of the state with each passing year. In fact, experts say that RMSF has reached epidemic proportions within the state.

North America is home to two tick species that are commonly referred to as “dog ticks”. The most abundant and medically threatening of these two species, the American dog tick, is well established in the eastern US, but this species exists in many western states as well. This species transmits the potentially fatal disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted-fever to humans in every region where they can be found. The other species, the brown dog tick, is abundant all over the US, but these ticks only spread diseases to dogs and other animals. However, brown dog ticks dwelling in parts of southern Arizona and northern Mexico can, in fact, transmit RMSF to humans in this region, and only in this region. As it happens, the brown dog tick is also the only tick species that can infest homes in large number. So far, brown dog ticks have transmitted RMSF to well over 300 people in Arizona, 21 of which died as a result.

Have you ever spotted a tick embedded within your skin? If so, were you able to identify the species?