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Researcher Shows That Bed Bug Bites Could Be Dangerous To Humans After All

Cimex lectularius, or the “common bed bug,” is one of the most frequently managed insect pests within homes, apartments, office buildings, public buildings, public transportation, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and just about any other high traffic indoor location one can conjure. It has been a little more than two decades since bed bugs first began their nationwide resurgence following their half century long absence in the US, and although the bloodsucking pests are now well controlled, the global bed bug population continues to increase by 500 percent with each passing year.

It is now understood that living within bed bug infested conditions where bites cannot be avoided causes an unhealthy degree of stress that can trigger lasting mental health issues, most notably post traumatic stress disorder. In addition to the negative mental health consequences of falling victim to a bed bug infestation, many medical professionals believe that bed bugs have the potential to become vectors of human disease, like most bloodsucking insect pests.

The two disease pathogens that medical researchers believe could be transmitted at some point by bed bugs include Bartonella quintana and Trypanosoma cruzi, the latter of which is currently the parasite that kissing bugs spread to humans in the Americas. Although numerous studies have found that bed bugs carry more than 45 disease-causing microorganisms, it has yet to be proven that bed bugs are capable of transmitting disease to humans. However, years of medical research has also revealed that potentially deadly allergic reactions to bed bug bites are more common than previously thought.

One recent study documented two medical cases in which bed bug bite victims experienced swelling of the face, lethargy, profuse sweating, breathing difficulties and chest tightness. The two patients were diagnosed with a life threatening case of systemic urticaria to proteins in bed bug saliva. Systemic urticaria is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal unless medical treatment is administered in a timely manner. Luckily, both patients recovered after steroid injections and antihistamine administration.

Have you ever experienced an allergic reaction to bed bug bites?

 

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How Did Brown-Banded Cockroaches Arrive In Arizona

How Did Brown-Banded Cockroaches Arrive In Arizona Where They Are Not Native, And How Can These Roach Pests Be Controlled Within Infested Homes?

Brown-banded cockroaches are a common roach pest throughout the United States, and especially in the south, but they do not originate in this country. Experts are not completely certain what country they originated from.  One expert suggests they likely came from Africa, but it is possible they were also brought into the U.S. from Cuba in 1903. Other records in Europe indicate it may have been introduced to the country after WWII around the late 1940s or early 1950s when soldiers returned home, unknowingly carrying the pests with them on their journeys back across the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. While it is now distributed all over the country, the brown-banded cockroach prefers relatively high temperatures, making Arizona an appealing place to live.

The brown-banded cockroach has a tendency to spread out their population throughout an entire home, earning it the nickname the “furniture cockroach”. This includes the more obvious locations such as the kitchen, as well as other areas that do not contain food like bedrooms, behind pictures hanging on the walls, and under tables. They particularly prefer to settle in higher locations in a house, hence why they can be found behind pictures high up on walls. They are smaller cockroaches, and are one of the cockroaches that are considered domestic, as they spend most of their time living indoors with humans. Unfortunately, they can negatively affect human health since they are a major source of allergens and especially problematic for those individuals with asthma.

Because brown-banded cockroaches are considered a domestic cockroach, it is best to use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to eliminating infestations. Brown-banded cockroaches prefer warmer environments, so areas like small crevices, storage cabinets, and any electronic equipment are important to check. Bait traps (both gel and stations) are ideal for controlling the living cockroaches currently scuttling across your floor. You will want to check them every month until the population of cockroaches decreases and make sure to put fresh bait in any empty traps. Making certain structural modifications that could make your home less inviting and accessible to cockroaches such as filling in any cracks and crevices in walls is another important step in dealing with brown-banded cockroach infestations. If an infestation is too heavy, it might be necessary to use insecticides, the use of a combination of liquid insecticide and an insect growth regulator placed in cracks and crevices is generally the most effective method. If all else fails, then it is time to call in the pest control professionals.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of brown-banded cockroaches?

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Summer Prevention Tips

It’s officially summertime – the season of backyard barbeques, pool parties and campfires. But, with a general uptick in time spent outdoors during the warmer months comes an increased risk of encountering yellowjackets, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects, Magic Pest Control forewarns.

Stinging insects are most active in the summer and early fall as they forage for food, which is why we frequently see them abuzz around our properties this time of year. Reports state that stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, so it’s important to take the proper precautions to keep them at bay, especially during outdoor gatherings with family and friends where food and drinks are often abundant.

Magic Pest Control recommends heeding the following expert advice from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) on stinging insect prevention:

  • Seal all visible cracks and crevices to keep stingers from moving indoors, and regularly inspect around the perimeter of the home for nests.
  • During a picnic, cover all food when outside and be sure to keep tight fitting lids on trash bins.
  • Drink out of clear containers, as stinging insects can sneak into aluminum cans unnoticed.
  • If spending long periods of time outdoors, skip the perfume, cologne or scented body wash in favor of unscented shampoos, soaps and lotions. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas where hornets and other pests often nest.
  • If you find a stinging insect nest on the property, don’t attempt to remove it on your own. Instead, contact a licensed pest control professional.

We certainly encourage people to enjoy spending time in the great outdoors this summer, but we also advise them to be ever mindful of stinging insects. If you do see a yellowjacket flying around the bowl of watermelon, the best advice I can give is don’t swat at it.

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The Most Commonly Overlooked Mosquito Breeding Sites On Residential Properties In Arizona

The Most Commonly Overlooked Mosquito Breeding Sites On Residential Properties In Arizona

One of the major downsides of the weather warming up and the sun coming out to welcome in the spring and summer seasons is the emergence of those seemingly ever present mosquitoes. That outdoor barbecue or pool party quickly goes from being a fun social gathering to a mosquito blood bath, with people having to constantly wear smelly bug spray and swat away their many attackers. And that doesn’t even go into the threat of the many mosquito-borne diseases these pests can transmit to humans such as West Nile virus, yellow fever, and dengue. However, people can reduce the threat of mosquitoes around their home simply by locating any pools of stagnant water on their property that could become potential breeding sites and eliminate them. This can include something as small as a bottle cap filled with rainwater, which results in many of these possible breeding sites being frequently overlooked.

Since many mosquitoes can breed in as little water as what would fill a bottle cap, many breeding sites around homes and residential neighborhoods go unnoticed. The first step to combating these blood suckers is finding those sites. Residents want to regularly monitor the areas around their yard to locate and identify the size of every source of stagnant water. These can include pet food and water bowls, bird baths, all outdoor containers, kiddy pools, tarps, open water barrels and trash bins without lids or drains, trays placed under potted plants, outdoor toys, clogged storm drains, obstructed roof gutters, blocked catchment basins, discarded appliances and car parts such as empty old tires.

Once you have located these possible breeding sites, you will want to eliminate them all. Plastic items are another commonly overlooked key breeding ground for mosquitoes. Anything from a discarded plastic bag and food/drink containers often used at large gatherings such as barbecues can easily become breeding sites for mosquitoes. You want to always remember to clean items like this up and empty rainwater out of items like children’s toys that have been left outside. By consistently monitoring for the presence of possible breeding sites and eliminating them on a regular basis, you can greatly reduce your mosquito problem. Without these breeding sites available near your home, mosquitoes will simply move on to find other ones elsewhere, keeping you free of the pests.

What are some strange possible mosquito breeding sites you’ve found around your home that you would have usually overlooked?

 

 

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The Invasive Robust Crazy Ant Is Expanding Its Habitat Range In Urban Areas Of Arizona

The Invasive Robust Crazy Ant Is Expanding Its Habitat Range In Urban Areas Of Arizona

While only a very small minority of all documented ant species are considered indoor pests, ants are the most commonly encountered, and the most commonly managed insect pests within homes and buildings throughout the US. A significant proportion of ant pests in the US are non-native species that have established invasive populations throughout the world. Ants that are capable of surviving all types of international travel, and can readily establish invasive populations in numerous urban environments outside of their native range are aptly referred to as “tramp ants.”

Tramp ants generally inhabit large colonies that contain multiple queens that can leave at any time to establish new colonies of their own. This makes tramp ants exceptionally difficult to eliminate from structures, as infestations require pest control professionals to locate and destroy all colony nesting sites. Tramp ant pest species found in the US include Pharaoh ants, Argentine ants, Tawny crazy ants, odorous house ants, ghost ants, and more. Nylanderia bourbonica, or the “robust crazy ant,” is a little-known tramp ant species of increasing importance in Arizona.

The robust crazy ant has long been known as a tramp ant, but they are not well documented in the US because specimens are hard to distinguish from other closely related species in the country. Also, most descriptions of robust crazy ants in the US were documented only recently, and most sources state that this species is becoming more common in the southeastern states. However, these ants are now more prevalent in Arizona than they are in Louisiana and Mississippi, and their habitat range is currently expanding throughout the southern states. Robust crazy ants are heavily dependent on moist conditions in order to thrive, and despite the arid climate in southern Arizona, these ants are expected to become more prevalent in the Sonoran Desert region in the coming years.

Have you ever struggled to control an infestation of raspberry crazy ants?

 

 

 

 

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Bizarre Insect Defense Mechanisms

Your average Joe assumes that insects defend themselves by biting with their mouth parts or by stinging with their stingers. It does not occur to most non-experts that insects vary just as much in their defensive features as they do in their physical features. Some insects have adapted to surviving on this planet by evolving excessively strange and complicated physical defense mechanisms that seem to defy logic. A particular group of sap-sucking insects provide an apt example of this sort of strangeness. A type of sap-sucking insect known as a “sharpshooter” uses a truly unique catapult-like physical feature to fling its urine for reasons that are still unknown. These insects are capable of flinging their urine at incredibly high speeds, and after years of research, scientists are finally able to understand how this insect achieves such an outlandish feat.

It is not unheard of for people to become doused with the urine of sap-sucking insects after walking near a tree infested with the seemingly mischievous insects. According to the engineer who led the recent study on how sharpshooter insects propel their urine, it is not known why these insects developed this odd ability, but it could be to avoid being exposed to their own urine, as the scent of urine can attract predators. The engineer who led the study, Saad Bhamla, of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, recorded the urine-propelling behaviors of two sap-sucking species with high speed video footage in order to determine how these insects achieve such remarkable urine-speeds. The two species are commonly known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter and the blue-green sharpshooter. Video footage revealed that tiny barb called a stylus, which is located at the insects’ rear, works like spring to propel urine into the air. As soon as a drop of urine falls onto the stylus, the mechanism springs forth, launching the urine droplet into the air at an acceleration of 20 times that of earth’s gravity. The stylus is outfitted with tiny hairs that also work to launch the urine droplets into the air.Sharpshooting sap-suckers do a lot of damage to the natural environment, as they transmit bacteria that causes disease in plants. Unfortunately, sharpshooters have recently expanded beyond their native southeastern US habitat to infect vineyards in Northern California.

Have you ever found a sap-sucking insect in the wild?

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The Hidden Areas Within And Around Homes Where Tarantulas Most Frequently Build Nests

The Hidden Areas Within And Around Homes Where Tarantulas Most Frequently Build Nests

The Aphonopelma genus is composed of nearly all tarantula species in the US, and despite their menacing appearance and relatively large size, which averages 6 inches in leg span, these tarantulas are harmless to humans, and have never been known to inflict medically harmful bites. Around 90 Aphonopelma species have been documented, which accounts for 10 percent of all known tarantula species worldwide. Aphonopelma tarantulas are largely uniform in appearance, making it difficult for entomologists to make taxonomic distinctions between captured specimens.

In addition to inflicting venomous bites, Aphonopelma tarantulas defend themselves by flicking urticating abdominal hairs at their enemies, and if they are properly motivated, they will also flick these hairs toward a person’s face, resulting in pronounced irritation. It is not uncommon for people to suffer serious ocular injury after being struck in the eyes by urticating hairs. Many medical case reports describe incidents in which urticating hairs from New World tarantulas had penetrated the exterior surface of people’s eyes, resulting in inflammation, vision loss, and in rare cases, blindness.

Arizona is home to at least 30 documented Aphonopelma tarantula species that dwell in ground burrows during the day before emerging at night to forage. The small holes in the ground that lead to tarantula burrows are spotted frequently, but tarantulas are not usually seen until the mid to late summer mating season, which sees male tarantulas travel long distances, often in herds, to locate burrowing females. In response to the flooding of their burrows during monsoon season, tarantulas are commonly spotted after bouts of rainfall. During the summer in Arizona, tarantulas are often spotted indoors and on residential lawns, sometimes in large enough numbers to make them a nuisance to homeowners. In fact, tarantulas are known to establish nesting sites in homes, especially homes located on the outskirts of urban centers where the landscape is more conducive to tarantula habitats.

Indoor tarantula nests are usually surrounded by silk webbing that is matted to a surface located in dark areas, such as the corners of storage rooms, closets, attics, cupboards, garages, and crawl spaces. Nests are also frequently established beneath furniture and even within utility boxes. Nests are more likely to be found outdoors, especially in patio corners where they are obscured by potted plants or other objects. Tarantulas are often found in boxes, around shrubs, stones and landscaping ornaments. When nests and egg sacs are found, pest control professionals can use dry powders, wettable powders, glue-based spider traps, or chemical sprays to eliminate the pests. Tarantulas may invade homes and yards repeatedly if there is a large number of their insect prey present, in which case, porch lights should be turned off for a period of time to prevent insects from gravitating onto properties, and it may be necessary to have an insect pest inspection carried out on the property.

Have you ever found multiple tarantulas within your home?

 

 

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Why Desert Subterranean Termite Infestations Are Usually More Extensive And More Likely To Result In Structural Failure Than Infestations Established By Other Termite Pests

There are three types of termites in the world, and a variety of species belonging to each type can be found in Arizona. These termite groups are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites, and while dampwood termites occasionally infest decayed and excessively moist finished woods, they very rarely inflict costly damage to structural lumber in Arizona homes. However, subterranean and drywood termite pests establish infestations within the structural wood components of Arizona homes frequently and all year round in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and other urban and suburban centers located in the Sonoran Desert. Of the 30 termite species inhabiting the US, a whopping 17 are known to inflict structural damage to homes and buildings in Arizona. Surprisingly, only three of these pest species are responsible for the majority of annual termite damage reported in the state. These termite pest species include Heterotermes aureus, Reticulitermes tibialis, and Incisitermes minor, and they are commonly known as desert subterranean, arid-land subterranean, and western drywood termites, respectively.

Just as their name suggests, subterranean termites live in colonies located in moist soil beneath the ground, and mature subterranean termite colonies can grow to contain between 50,000 and two million individuals, the vast majority of which are workers. Workers carry out a variety of duties including nest construction, foraging, feeding their nestmates, and establishing satellite colonies. Drywood termites, on the other hand, live in colonies located within above ground wood sources, and these colonies are much smaller, as they grow to contain only a few thousand individuals at maturity. Subterranean termite infestations are usually far more destructive than drywood termite infestations due to the much larger size of their colonies. Also, large subterranean termite colonies are composed of several interconnected nesting sites that can span areas larger than a football field. Desert subterranean termite infestations see workers excavate many long tunnels through multiple lumber boards, and the damage they inflict is unique for its shredded appearance. In most desert subterranean termite infestation cases, substructural wood components, subflooring, beams and joists are often the first to sustain damage by foraging workers. This species is notable for being the only subterranean termite pest species in the US that is capable of initiating infestations in structural wood components located far away from the ground surface. Other subterranean termite pest species establish infestations that rarely see workers advance beyond the first floor of structures.

Have you ever lived in a home that had an active termite infestation?

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Giant Whip Scorpions Often Wander Into Homes During Monsoon Season

Giant Whip Scorpions Will Spray An Odorous And Irritating Acid Directly At Anything That Disturbs Them, And They Often Wander Into Homes During Monsoon Season

Mastigoproctus giganteus is a bizarre-looking arthropod species that inhabits a variety of ecological conditions in the southernmost US states, especially Arizona where this species is most prevalent. M. giganteus is an arachnid species that many people mistake for a scorpion due to its similar looking lobster-like body, which includes sizable pincers and a thick tail that is missing a stinger. M. giganteus has been given several common names since it was first documented in North America back in 1835. People living in the southwest US often refer to this species as a “whip scorpion,” a “vinegaroon,” or a “grampus,” but entomologists prefer the “giant whip scorpion,” as M. giganteus is noticeably larger than its several close relatives that also inhabit the desert southwest.

Entomologists and other scientists have long claimed that the giant whip scorpion is the only species of its kind within North America. However, an extensive field study carried out two years ago revealed that North America is home to at least seven almost identical looking whip scorpion species that were long assumed to be one single species. Although this discovery came as a surprise to the scientific community, many past researchers found the complete lack of diversity among North American whip scorpions to be highly dubious. The study’s authors are convinced that multiple whip scorpion species have yet to be discovered in the southwest. According to the study’s coauthor, Lorenzo Prendini, it is entirely possible for undiscovered whip scorpion species to be prevalent in residential yards in southern Arizona.

Whip scorpions are, in fact, abundant in both residential and undisturbed habitats, but since they are strictly nocturnal arachnids that spend the daylight hours well concealed within deep ground burrows, they are not easy to find. However, it is not uncommon for one or a few whip scorpions to wander into homes where their intimidating appearance typically earns the arachnids a hasty death sentence. Many homeowners in the southwest insist that their homes have become heavily infested with whip scorpions, but according to the famed biologist and Tucson resident Justin O. Schmidt, these residents were likely mistaking similar looking Solpugid arachnids for whip scorpions. The director of Gray Hawk Nature Center, Sandy Anderson, has long urged Arizona residents to avoid killing whip scorpions when they are encountered indoors because the arachnids prey on just about every arthropod pest in existence including tarantulas, ants, black widows, bark scorpions, cockroaches, termites, and even small rodents and lizards. Unlike true scorpions, whip scorpions do not inflict venomous stings, but they have been known to inflict painful but medically harmless pinches on skin. Worst of all, the giant whip scorpion defends itself by accurately squirting odorous and irritating acetic acid onto their enemies. At least one medical case study describing a human skin injury resulting from whip scorpion spray has been published.

Have you ever encountered a whip scorpion on your property?

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Which Structural Woods Do Termites Prefer To Infest Within Homes

Which Structural Woods Do Termites Prefer To Infest Within Homes, And How Do Subterranean And Drywood Termites Know Which Wood Sources Provide Optimal Nourishment?

Several damaging species of subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites infest homes and buildings all year round in Arizona. Species from both the dampwood and drywood termite groups live in colonies that are contained entirely within single above-ground wood items. Generally, drywood termites establish infestations within sources of sound and dry wood, and this is especially the case when it comes to the western drywood termite, which is the most destructive drywood termite pest species in the country.

Unlike drywood termites, dampwood termites establish infestations exclusively within decayed wood items that have become heavily saturated with moisture. Due to their preference for feeding on rotting and waterlogged wood sources, dampwood termites are not found infesting structural wood within homes as often as they are found infesting open-air wood sources that have already sustained damage from rainwater. Dampwood termites frequently infest wood fences, utility poles, patio-wood, and occasionally, infestations are found in hardwood flooring located above consistently damp crawl space environments.

Subterranean termites dwell beneath the ground where mature colonies can contain anywhere between 50,000 and two million individual termites, making them much larger than the drywood and dampwood termite colonies found within single pieces of wood. Subterranean termite workers generally infest relatively moist substructural wood components that are located in close proximity to their ground-soil habitat. Workers digest moist and rotting wood more rapidly than sound dry wood, but unlike dampwood termites, subterranean termites do not rely solely on moist wood for their water needs, as workers can return to the moist soil in order to hydrate as needed.

Since pest species from all three termite groups feed within interior wood cavities where they remain hidden from view, infested wood usually appears undamaged. However, termite damaged wood will produce a hollow sound when tapped, and the surface of heavily infested wood will collapse in response to exterior pressure. Drywood termite nymphs possess particularly strong and durable jaws that allow them to chew into dense and hard summerwood portions of lumber as well as softer springwood portions. Subterranean termite workers, on the other hand, cannot readily chew into summerwood, and they also have a difficult time digesting hard wood particles. Subterranean termites are usually found infesting sill plates, beams, joists and other moist substructural lumber components near the ground-soil, but drywood termite infestations can be found anywhere on a home’s interior timber-frame or exterior wood paneling. Drywood termite alates frequently initiate new colonies within attics, behind wood siding, and below roof shingles. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termite infestations are also commonly found in wood furniture.

Have you ever discovered a drywood termite infestation within wood furniture?