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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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Why Are Mosquitoes Infecting So Many People With The West Nile Virus In Arizona?

Authorities in the Phoenix metro area are asking residents to keep their properties free of standing water sources, and to keep themselves protected from mosquito bites while outdoors. The number of West Nile virus cases has skyrocketed this year in Arizona, and the mosquitoes that spread this disease are urban-dwelling species that rely on small sources of standing water on residential properties in order to breed. Rainwater that collects in flower pot saucers, flower beds, kiddie pools, children’s toys, solo cups, aluminum cans and many other objects that are commonly found in yards attract massive amounts of disease-causing mosquitoes into neighborhoods. These water sources have ultimately been fueling the ongoing West Nile epidemic in Arizona, and therefore, removing standing water from properties can dramatically reduce the annual rate of  West Nile infections and even save lives.

Last year, only eight cases of West Nile occurred in Arizona, two of which resulted in death. However, as of August 28th, 135 West Nile Cases and eight deaths have occurred in the state, making Arizona the state with the highest number of West Nile infection cases. Despite California’s significantly higher population and greater size in terms of area, that state has seen 57 West Nile cases so far this year, far fewer than in Arizona. Surprisingly, California is second to Arizona when it comes to the number of West Nile cases per state, so why has Arizona become the number one state in the nation for West Nile virus cases? According to Dr. Stefanie Schroeder, medical director for ASU Health Services, West Nile cases increase during and after the monsoon season, and the virus is spread by both birds and mosquitoes, but it is not yet known which of the two is responsible for the current epidemic. In other words, nobody knows exactly why Arizona leads the nation in West Nile infection cases this year, but keeping properties free of standing water sources will certainly reduce the rate at which these cases occur..

Do you have more mosquito bites this year than you did last year?

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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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Arizona Is Now Seeing More West Nile Cases Than Any Other State, And Seven Residents Have Died From The Disease This Year Alone

Arizona Is Now Seeing More West Nile Cases Than Any Other State, And Seven Residents Have Died From The Disease This Year Alone

Those who assume that mosquitoes are only abundant in humid regions of the US are wrong, as the driest region of the US sees a higher rate of West Nile virus disease cases than any other region in the country, including subtropical and tropical regions like southern Florida and Hawaii. Arizona has emerged as the state with the highest number of west Nile-infected residents, and surprisingly, most cases are occurring in southern Arizona where the climate is particularly dry.

The significant increase in West Nile virus cases this year does not surprise researchers who found mosquito populations to be unusually high last spring. The high mosquito population this year is due to the relatively rainy 2018-2019 winter season in Arizona, which provided the first generation of urban-dwelling mosquito species with an abundance of stagnant water sources that were ideal for breeding.

Most of these breeding sites are located on residential and urban properties where rainwater collects within various objects commonly found on lawns. For example, bird baths, garbage and recycle bins, ornamental ponds, potted plants, tires, wheelbarrows, clogged gutters, water puddles beneath outdoor faucets, children’s toys, and ground depressions can all gather rainwater where massive numbers of mosquito eggs can develop into adult mosquitoes within a period of 7 to 10 days. Simply removing these water sources from residential lawns would drastically decrease the rate of West Nile disease cases, as urban mosquitoes rely primarily on these water sources for breeding.

Seven deaths have occurred in Arizona this year alone due to West Nile infection, and the latest statistics released a week ago show that most West Nile infections have been contracted in Maricopa County this year. Currently in Maricopa County, 135 confirmed West Nile cases and three more probable cases have been documented, which far outnumbers the usual 20 West Nile cases that are recorded at this time of year in Arizona. Both federal and state officials are now working together to reduce disease-carrying mosquito populations in Arizona.

Have you noticed mosquito swarms within your neighborhood this year?

 

 

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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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Southern House Mosquito Bites After Dark In Residential Areas Where They Can Transmit Multiple Diseases To Humans

Mosquitoes are becoming more abundant in southern Arizona, and so are human cases of mosquito-borne disease. The most significant mosquito-borne disease in the state, the west Nile virus, was virtually unheard of in the southwest 15 years ago, but now, mosquitoes are transmitting this disease to numerous residents of Maricopa and Pima Counties. Unfortunately, mosquitoes infected with the west Nile virus may be growing in number at higher elevations in more northern areas of the state, as infected mosquitoes were collected from Flagstaff less than two weeks ago. The last human cases of west Nile in Flagstaff were reported back in 2010, but another batch of west Nile-infected mosquitoes were collected in Flagstaff three months ago, indicating that the local population is at an increased risk of contracting the infection this year. Culex quinquefasciatus is one mosquito species that can transmit west Nile to humans, and this species thrives within urban and suburban areas where it breeds in stagnant water sources found in residential yards.

Culex quinquefasciatus is more commonly known as the “southern house mosquito,” and this species can be identified by the five lines that adorn its abdomen. However, identifying this species by physical features is both difficult and unnecessary, as southern Arizona residents know this species as the mosquitoes that frequently inflict bites after the sun goes down. This mosquito can also be identified readily by the particularly loud buzzing sound that it produces. This buzzing sound contributes to the species’ reputation as a nuisance pest in and around households, but this species’ is most notable for its ability to transmit diseases from birds to humans. In addition to the west Nile virus, southern house mosquitoes also transmit St. Louis encephalitis and other encephalitis diseases in humans. These mosquitoes even transmit a parasite that causes heartworm in dogs. Southern house mosquitoes are only able to survive due to the ease with which they locate stagnant water sources in human populated areas. Removing containers that have collected rainwater and reducing the amount of water used to feed lawn grass can go a long way at reducing the southern house mosquito population in neighborhoods and parks in the state.

Do you recall sustaining mosquito bites after dark?

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How Aggressive Are Paper Wasp Species In Arizona?

How Aggressive Are Paper Wasp Species In Arizona? Should Their Nests Be Removed From Properties? How Can Their Nests Be Identified?

When most people see a wasp or yellow jacket, they immediately turn in the opposite direction and flee from the notoriously aggressive insects in order to avoid getting a painful sting, which can become lethal if the person happens to be allergic. Arizona has its fair share of these dreaded, stinging pests. Paper wasps in particular are quite common throughout the state, with species of this type of wasp including yellow and brown paper wasps, western paper wasp, European paper wasps, and Navajo paper wasps. Just how dangerous are they, though, and how should residents handle their presence?

Paper wasps are an average of 1 inch in length, and come in various colors depending on the species, but most of the southwestern species are varying shades of brown and yellow. Their long and slender bodies are easy to spot, with yellow paper wasps standing out due to their bright yellow bodies, contrasted with their dark wings. Navajo paper wasps are instead a deep chocolate-brown color, with only the end of their abdomen being colored yellow. Their nests are noticeably smaller than the nests of yellow jackets, containing no more than 250 individual wasps. They build their nests under suitably protected spots such as the rafters of homes and buildings, under eaves, in attics, or under tree or shrub branches.

Paper wasps are mostly a nuisance to homeowners when they nest in or near said homes. Compared to other wasps, paper wasps are actually quite docile and rarely aggressive, but they are still protective of their nests and will go on the attack, stinging perceived intruder when they sense too much movement near the nest. This often happens when people are trying to work in their garden or prune shrubs and other plants in their back or front yard landscapes. When people try to prune a shrub that a paper wasp nest happens to be hidden under, the wasps will send out several comrades to sting the threat in defense of their nest. Stings can be painful, resulting in pain and swelling around the sting, but sensitive individuals may have a more serious reaction, requiring them to get medical attention. In light of these possible dangers, any paper wasp nest/s found inside or near a home should be removed by a pest control professional.

Have you ever found a paper wasp nest in or near your home?

 

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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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How Bed Bugs Rapidly Adapt To Survive Insecticides, And How The Pest Control Industry Has Mastered Bed Bug Control

Bed bug infestation cases have been increasing rapidly all around the world, especially in the United States. Bed bugs were nearly eradicated during the middle part of the last century, but the pests reemerged around the turn of the millenium. Bed bug infestations are notorious for being difficult to eradicate, and infestations have forced people to discard valuable infested items, such as mattresses, bedding, clothing and furniture. Furthermore, bed bug infestations are often harrowing for those who experience them, and lasting psychological trauma can result from living with infestations. While bed bug infestations continue to be a challenge to eradicate today, recently developed integrated pest management strategies have proven effective at ridding homes of bed bug pests.

The bed bugs that exist today are very different from the bed bugs that your elders may have encountered several decades ago, as modern bed bugs have evolved physical features that make them particularly difficult to exterminate. An overreliance on insecticides for bed bug extermination in the past has made bed bugs resistant to most traditional insecticides. Bed bugs are resilient creatures, and much like how cockroaches evolved to withstand insecticides, modern bed bugs possess bodily features that protect the pests from the toxins in insecticide solutions. For example, genetic researchers have discovered 14 genetic mutations in modern bed bugs that all allow them to survive insecticides. These mutated genes are associated with the bed bug exoskeletons. Specifically, these mutations made bed bug exoskeletons thicker, thereby preventing insecticides from reaching nerve cells.

Amazingly, rapid adaptations of this sort have never been documented as occurring in any other insect pest species. Today, however, a number of different methods are undertaken to eradicate bed bugs from homes. These methods include vacuuming, washing bedding at a high temperature and using steam or heat treatments. Over-the-counter bed bug control products exist, but research has found them to be ineffective, but pest control professionals are licensed to use specialized chemicals that successfully kill bed bug pests. For serious bed bug infestations, a combination of non-chemical treatments, like heat, and a minimal use of insecticide effectively and permanently eradicates active bed bug infestations from homes.

Have you ever attempted to eradicate bed bugs on your own with over-the-counter insecticide?