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Which Termite Species Are Arizona Homeowners Most Likely To Encounter During The Summer Season

Which Termite Species Are Arizona Homeowners Most Likely To Encounter During The Summer Season

Entomologists and pest control experts consider termites to be Arizona’s number one urban insect pest. Numerous termite species inhabit the state, but there are three particular subterranean termite species that Arizona residents are most likely to encounter within their homes. The arid land subterranean termites habitat in Arizona is largely limited to the southwestern portion of the state. These termites are an important ecological component to the Sonoran desert ecosystem where they are often found infesting creosote and greasewood bushes. One of the main reasons why the rate of termite infestations is high in Arizona is because housing developments are constructed over these desert landscapes. The desert subterranean termite is, perhaps, the most common termite pest found infesting Arizona homes, but they are not as abundant in urban and suburban areas of the state as Gnathamitermes perplexus termites are. Despite this, the little-known Gnathamitermes perplexus termite species rarely infests homes.

The Gnathamitermes perplexus termite species is considered a “true” desert termite species for their habit of consuming a variety of desert plant species. These termites even consume dead grass, weeds and palm trees, and in some cases, these termites are found infesting fence posts, utility posts, mailboxes and in rare cases, a home’s structural wood. Although Gnathamitermes perplexus is the most abundant termite species inhabiting southern Arizona, they rarely infest homes. Both the body length of mature adult swarmers of this species and their wingspan grow to be around three fourths of an inch in length. These termites are brown and color and can be seen swarmin during the daylight hours after a heavy rainstorm. These termites are quite similar in appearance to desert subterranean termites, but soldiers belonging to the  Gnathamitermes perplexus are unique for possessing a lone tooth within their curved jaws. This tooth is looked for when identifying termites in Arizona.

Have you ever found a termite, or several, eating dead grass or plant matter?

 

 

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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 Largest Scorpions In The World Can Be Found In Arizona

The Largest Scorpions In The World Can Be Found In Arizona

It goes without saying that Arizona is known for its numerous arachnids, most notably scorpions and tarantulas. Any good real-estate professional in Arizona is sure to warn potential home-buyers in the state about the many local wildlife hazards that can pose a threat to residents, and arachnids are certainly one of these wildlife hazards. Although they may be a nightmarish sight and venomous, the tarantula species that are native to Arizona are next to harmless, and will not inflict bites that are any more painful than bee stings. This is not the case for another group of arachnids within the state–scorpions.

The Arizona bark scorpion is easily the most venomous scorpion species in Arizona, and while their venom is potentially deadly, very few people in the state have succumbed to bark scorpion stings since the introduction of an effective antivenom. A far less venomous, but much scarier looking scorpion species in Arizona would be desert hairy scorpions. There are numerous hairy scorpion species residing in Arizona, and hairy scorpions represent the largest family of scorpions in all of North America. These wicked looking creatures can grow to be around seven inches in length. Unfortunately, these massive scorpions are sometimes found in residential areas, and even within homes, as this scorpion group gravitates toward watered lawns and ornamental plants in order to capture and feed on their beetle prey that are also attracted to these common features of suburbia. Interestingly, desert hairy scorpions have the longest lifespan of all scorpion species worldwide. The oldest hairy scorpions die at around 25 years of age, while most specimens live for 10 to 15 years in the wild, and for 15 to 20 years in captivity. Although not territorial, desert hairy scorpions will not hesitate to attack when provoked. When properly motivated, a hairy scorpion will intimidate prey and humans by raising their legs in the air while vertically situating themselves with the assistance of their strong tail.

Have you ever found a scorpion specimen in the wild that you believe exceeded 7 inches in body length?

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A Tenant Collected Dozens Of Scorpions From His Infested Phoenix Apartment After His Wife Sustained A Dangerous Sting From One Of The Arachnids

Scorpions are not usually considered to be household pests; instead, the arachnids are commonly believed to be dangerous to humans only when they are encountered in the wild. This assumption makes a bit of sense. After all, scorpions have adapted to thrive within diverse environmental conditions, including some of the harshest environments on the planet, so why would they need to seek refuge within homes? As it happens, this assumption is ultimately wrong, and if you are an Arizona native, you likely know this already. In reality, scorpions infest homes and buildings frequently in Arizona and other nearby states. For example, during the early summer of 2017, one couple’s north Phoenix apartment unit became infested with numerous scorpions that were capable of dealing out painful and potentially dangerous stings to humans.

Shortly after moving into their new apartment, Christian Costanzo and his wife realized that their unit was already occupied by dozens of scorpions. For several days, the couple spotted several scorpions both inside and outside of their apartment unit, but once Costanzo’s wife sustained a sting, the couple decided to notify the apartment’s front desk workers about the horrific and hazardous infestation within their unit. Unfortunately, Costanzo claimed that he and his wife were laughed out of the office by an employee after complaining. At one point, the couple were even told that their situation was a natural consequence of living within Arizona. Understandably, this response did not satisfy the couple, so they took their complaint straight to the manager who then sent a pest controller into the unit in order to apply insecticide. Unfortunately, this treatment did not work, as scorpions require a relatively high dose of insecticide in order to be exterminated. Frustrated, Costanzo set out to prove the seriousness of the infestation by capturing a few scorpions near and within his apartment unit. Within a mere 30 minutes, Costanzo had captured well over 30 scorpions, and he also had pictures of the arachnids within his unit as proof of the infestation. Costanzo also claimed to have killed or captured 14 specimens within his unit since he moved in six months prior. Not surprisingly, Costanzo became determined to break his lease, and after proof of the infestation was provided to a local news team, management was less resistant about allowing him to break his lease. However, when asked for a comment on the matter by the news team, the manager simply denied that an infestation of scorpions existed within the building.

Have you ever stepped on a venomous insect or arachnid?

 

 

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A Young Arizona Boy Demonstrated Serious And Bizarre Symptoms Before Nearly Losing His Life Due To Two Bark Scorpion Stings

When the hot summer months start to arrive in Arizona so do all the creepy crawlies that you want to avoid at all cost, namely scorpions. With more scorpions out and about the number of scorpion stings increase during the summer. We know what they look like and that it is important to watch out for scorpions, but most people would not know how to recognize the symptoms of a scorpion sting in a young child. One little Arizona boy suffered from an attack from one and his parents were shocked and rather confused by his extreme symptoms. They would never have known it was caused by a scorpion sting had they not caught him with the creature still crawling on him.

10 month old Jericho Lewis began exhibiting strange symptoms after being stung by a bark scorpion, one of the most common scorpions in Arizona as well as the most venomous. His grandmother recorded the child on her cell phone, and the family shared it on the Internet to show his reaction and hopefully raise awareness of just what it might look like if your own child were to be stung and have a similar severe reaction. Without knowing he was stung by a scorpion, his reaction could easily be mistaken for a child having a temper tantrum. In fact, the boy was suffering from a severe reaction to the sting. His mother, Kelsie Lewis described his symptoms, citing his red face, trouble breathing, vomiting, and darting eyes and tongue. What might not cause much harm in an adult can easily be deadly for a small child.

Where parents might get confused is that, while Jericho was stung twice, the stings were not very red or swollen, and might have not even been noticed if he hadn’t been found with a scorpion still crawling on him. His family quickly took him to the hospital, and Jericho had to be treated with two vials of antivenom in order to get rid of his symptoms. Thankfully, after just a few days the little boy was up, happy and as talkative as if the harrowing event had never taken place.

Has your child or another child you know ever been stung by a scorpion? What was their reaction?

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The Biting And Stinging Insects That Commonly Infest And Damage Swimming Pools In Arizona

The Biting And Stinging Insects That Commonly Infest And Damage Swimming Pools In Arizona

Most Americans are not familiar with any aquatic insect species, but most would assume that such insects could not exist in the excessively dry Sonoran desert region within Arizona. Although this assumption may seem sensible, the state is, in fact, home to several aquatic insect species. If there is one group of residents in Arizona who are aware of aquatic insects within the state, then it would probably be residential pool owners since it is not uncommon for swimming pools to become infested with aquatic insects. But aquatic insects are not the worst group of insect pests that Arizona pool owners may have to deal with on occasion, as there also exists a stinging wasp species that frequents residential pools for a cool drink during the summer season. In some cases, wasp swarms can take shape around swimming pools in Arizona, putting residents at serious risk of sustaining potentially dangerous stings.

Some insect pests that are commonly found within Arizona pools are not necessarily attracted to the water as much as they are attracted to the lights within and around a pool. For example, insects that are attracted to artificial light sources, like moths, some beetle species and leafhoppers, often fall into pools where their corpses can become numerous. If swimming pools and surrounding yard vegetation is not maintained, then pools will eventually become inundated with mosquitoes and midges looking to use the large water source as a site for reproduction and egg laying.

A common group of aquatic insects in Arizona known as backswimmers cannot tell the difference between natural water sources and pool water, so infestations of these insects within swimming pools is to be expected. The sharp mouthparts possessed by these insects can damage pool lining, and they will not hesitate to bite any that human who dares to share a pool with them. A water-scavenging beetle species, Tropisternus californicus, can also infest Arizona swimming pools where they have been known to bite bathers. The most troubling pool pest in Arizona may be the yellow paper wasp, or the swimming pool wasp. This may be the most commonly complained about insect pest within Arizona pools, and many residents have first hand knowledge of this insect’s ability to survive long periods below the water’s surface. Since yellow paper wasps can sting humans, professional pest control assistance is highly recommended for residents who find these insects around their pool.

Have you ever witnessed a large insect swarm around a swimming pool?

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A Yuma Resident Sustained Fatal Honey Bee Stings While Attempting To Remove A Nest From His Couch

A Yuma Resident Sustained Fatal Honey Bee Stings While Attempting To Remove A Nest From His Couch

Most fatal bee attacks in Arizona are perpetrated by Africanized honey bees, which are non-native pests that pose a public health threat within Arizona and surrounding states. Africanized honey bees, more commonly known as killer bees, emerge every spring in Arizona where they inflict deadly attacks on residents at least once per year. While it is understandable to assume that killer bees are responsible for most, if not all, fatal bee attacks in Arizona, it should be noted that honey bees also attack and kill residents in the state. For example, last week an Arizona man sustained hundreds of honey bee stings while he was attempting to remove an active honey bee hive from his outdoor couch. Sadly, the victim was unable to survive the numerous honey bee stings that he sustained during the attack.

Around 6:30 PM on April seventh, a 51 year old Yuma man, Epigmenio Gonzalez, was brought by paramedics into a hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival in response to a swarm of bees that attacked and stung the man hundreds of times on his property. Once the local police arrived in response to an emergency call made from the man’s home, they found Gonzalez lying motionless on his front lawn. The paramedics, police and other authorities quickly noticed that Gonzalez’ whole body had been covered with the offending bees. Apparently, as Gonzalez had been removing the hive from his couch, the bees became agitated before aggressively attacking him. In addition to Gonzalez, a female at the scene also sustained numerous stings during her effort to come to the man’s rescue. She was transported to the Yuma hospital where she eventually made a full recovery. Several sheriff deputies and officials with Rural Metro also sustained several bee stings during the ordeal, but none of them sought medical attention. Several friends, family members, and fellow residents took to Facebook to grieve over the man’s death, but several other commenters took the opportunity to stress the importance of seeking a trained pest control professional to remove the bees safely.

Were you aware that honey bees can be deadly to non-allergic individuals?

 

 

 

 

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How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between Nuisance Termites And Wood-Destroying Termites

How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between Nuisance Termites And Wood-Destroying Termites

Arizona is home to nearly 20 documented termite species, some of which are pests that attack and damage both structural and natural sources of wood, while others are not categorized as pests at all. Most non-pest termite species in Arizona limit their activity to uninhabited areas of the Sonoran Desert where they mostly feed on decaying plant matter. However, there also exists termite species in Arizona that, while not being significant pests to timber-framed structures, are still considered pests due to their habit of annoying residents. These types of insect pests are often referred to as “nuisance pests,” and although these pests are not disease vectors, structural pests or environmental pests, their activity within and around homes and buildings can become so overwhelmingly annoying and difficult to eradicate that the assistance of a pest control professional often becomes necessary. Nuisance insect pests include houseflies, crickets, most ant species, boxelder bugs, ladybugs and moths. The existence of nuisance termite pests is not widely known among the general public, but Arizona is home to two subterranean termite species that are typically categorized as nuisance pests.

The subterranean termite species known as Amitermes wheeleri, or Wheeler’s termite, and Gnathamitermes perplexus are two occasional nuisance termite pests in Arizona that are sometimes referred to as “desert termites,” not to be confused with dampwood and subterranean desert termite species. However, much like structural termite pests, Gnathamitermes perplexus occasionally builds mud tubes on wooden structures, but the damage they cause to structural wood is merely cosmetic at its worst. The Wheeler’s termite species does not construct mud tubes on structures, but they do build a dark-colored nest over tree stumps, the base of mesquite trees and fence posts. Arizona homeowners have mistakenly assumed G. perplexus mud tubes and Wheeler’s termite nests with those made by serious structural termite pests, but nuisance termite pests can be discerned by the lack of damage that they inflict to structural woods. These two termite species can also be a nuisance to residents during their heavy seasonal swarms, which for Wheeler’s termites, occur at dawn and dusk shortly after rainfall, while G. perplexus swarms take place during summer nights after rainfall.

Have you ever discovered a mysterious nest on your property that appeared to be made by insects?

 

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Arizona Residents And Experts Are Perplexed By Massive Swarms Of Flies Invading Neighborhood Homes

Arizona Residents And Experts Are Perplexed By Massive Swarms Of Flies Invading Neighborhood Homes

Arizona is home to several fly species, some of which can cause nuisance infestations within homes, while others can even be dangerous. Most fly species are well adapted to a number of different climatic conditions and many species can be found in every nook and cranny of the United States. In Arizona, some of the most problematic fly pests include fruit flies, vinegar flies, and stable flies. Fruit flies and vinegar flies prefer to feed on the various fruits that grow from trees within the Sonoran desert, while stable flies can inflict painful bites that can take a chuck out of human skin. Other flies, like several bee fly species, are harmless to humans and are recognized as important pollinators. However, late last year, residents of a west Valley neighborhood in Buckeye fell victim to a massive invasion of nuisance flies that swarmed into homes where they terrorized residents for weeks. Although this fly invasion was regarded as “mysterious” by locals, it is not uncommon for massive fly swarms to invade Arizona neighborhoods during the late summer and even into the fall season.

During the spring of 2016, residents of Goodyear were helpless to prevent swarms of flies from entering their homes. The next year also saw a boom in pest control calls from residents who had been complaining about fly infestations within their homes. And late last year Maricopa County officials received dozens of calls from concerned residents just moments after thousands of flies descended upon a west Valley neighborhood. A few years ago, experts ascertained that these fly invasions were occuring due to the a large nearby farm where livestock and manure are plentiful. Naturally, flies are attracted to these conditions, but the latest fly invasion seemed unusually massive even when considering this factor. Maricopa County officials received nearly forty calls from residents asking about the fly swarms within a two week timeframe. Unfortunately, seasonal fly swarms usually occur at least once each year in many areas of Arizona, but infestations can be controlled by maintaining clean living conditions and having a good pest control professional.

Have you ever witnessed a flies swarming within your home?

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You May Be Surprised To Learn Which Insects Are Most Problematic For Arizona Residents

Many people living in the northern United States prefer to avoid the freezing cold climate in their region by traveling south for the season. Arizona is a popular destination for these “snowbirds” during the winter, but during the summer, most Arizona cities become too hot for most people’s comfort. Due to Arizona’s extreme desert heat, residents of the state seek refuge within their air conditioned homes, but unfortunately, so do arachnids and insects. According to Dr. Kirk Smith with the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department, there are five different bugs that Arizona natives often find within their homes during the summer, and one or two of these common household bugs may come as a surprise to even Arizonans.

It is no secret that scorpions are well adapted to the desert landscape in Arizona, but even these arachnids have a hard time tolerating the hottest summer days in the state. Cotton plantations and citrus trees were a common feature of the pre-urban Arizona landscape, and it is believed that scorpions established habitats in these areas. Despite the proliferation of urban developments, scorpion habitats remain largely unchanged in the state, which is why certain urban and suburban areas of Arizona are more vulnerable to scorpion infestations and envenomations than other areas. For example, several neighborhoods in Mesa still contain clusters of citrus trees, and not surprisingly, scorpions are often found in the homes located near these trees.

Many people assume that mosquitoes are not an issue in Arizona due to the dry climate in the state, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Maricopa County officials have anti-mosquito foggings conducted regularly just to keep the bloodsucking insect populations in check. And since Arizona does not usually undergo a seasonal freeze, mosquito populations are not killed off during the winter season, resulting in high mosquito populations come spring. Dr. Smith also placed ticks on his list of top five bugs to look out for during Arizona summers, as ticks have been found within high elevation cities, such as Sedona, Payson and Flagstaff. So ticks are not just a problem for New Englanders, as many assume.

Have you ever spotted a tick embedded within your skin in Arizona?