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Why Some Homes See Repeated Spider Infestations While Others Don’t

Spiders do not generally establish extensive infestations within houses and buildings, but a few species are known for congregating in certain areas within homes. Since Arizona is home to the medically significant western black widow species, as well as five recluse spider species, not including the brown recluse, it is important for residents to identify the species of any spider/s that makes repeated appearances indoors. The relative abundance of vegetation, especially overgrown vegetation, surrounding homes is, perhaps, the most significant factor that can influence spider pest infestations within homes.

Spiders are attracted to residential yards due to the prevalence of their insect prey in gardens and lawn-grass. Some spiders capture insect prey with webs, while others have adapted to hunting down spiders on foot. Web-spinning spiders that are frequently found around and within homes include orb weavers, funnel weavers, cobweb spiders, house spiders, and black widows. Hunting spiders that are commonly found around homes include wolf spiders, crab spiders, wandering spiders, ground spiders and tarantulas. Web spinning spiders attach their silken webs to garden plants, tall overgrown weeds, shrubs and other forms of vegetation, while hunting spiders maintain a presence in yards and around gardens due to the abundance of insect food sources in vegetation-rich areas.

Spiders of all kinds are constantly present within all yards, and even in homes, but they become particularly numerous in yards where an abundance of vegetation indicates a high population of insect food sources. When vegetation becomes abundant around a home’s foundation, spiders often find a way indoors through cracks, crevices, crawl spaces, vents and a variety of other external entry points. This is why keeping shrubs and other forms of vegetation around a home’s foundation neatly trimmed will help to prevent spiders from wandering indoors.

Garden beds should be located about a foot away from a home’s foundation, and firewood should never be stacked against a home’s exterior walls. Outdoor lighting attracts insect pests, which in turn, attracts spider pests to homes, but using yellow incandescent and sodium vapor lamps in place of white incandescent and mercury vapor lamps will help to reduce both insect and spider population numbers on a property.

Have you had success at reducing arthropod pests around your home with yellow light bulbs?

 

 

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Silverfish Often Establish Nuisance Infestations Within Homes, But They Can Damage Valuable Indoor Items As Well

Silverfish Often Establish Nuisance Infestations Within Homes, But They Can Damage Valuable Indoor Items As Well

Silverfish are bizarre looking and common insect pests in homes and buildings all over the world. Like their common name suggests, silverfish closely resemble fish, or shrimp-like crustaceans, and they grow to be a relatively sizable ¾ of an inch in body length. Silverfish are capable of living in homes and buildings throughout their life cycle, and females deposit their eggs within indoor cracks and crevices in walls and ledges. Larvae emerge from their eggs within a period of three weeks, and it takes 4 to 6 weeks before larvae develop into adults. Females lay around 100 eggs during their lifetime, and considering that eggs can develop into adults in less than two months, silverfish can become abundant within homes in a relatively short amount of time. Silverfish are particularly common in homes located in dry areas, making silverfish frequent home-invaders in Arizona. While silverfish are largely considered nuisance pests within homes, they can have an economic impact as well, due to their habit of chewing away at certain items, such as paper and stored food.

Silverfish have long lifespans for insects, as they live for a period of 6 to 8 years, and they are able to survive without food for over a year before succumbing to starvation. These pests can survive long periods within homes without being noticed by residents, as silverfish forage at night, and they are able to skitter along floors at fast speeds. However, silverfish require specific conditions in order to survive indoors, and they generally remain on the first floor of homes or in crawl spaces, cellars, and basements. Occasionally silverfish are found in large numbers in attics, but only under certain environmental conditions. These insects prefer to dwell in environments where the temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees, and they are particularly sensitive to moisture, as they require 70 to 90 percent humidity levels in order to survive.

Silverfish are unpleasant to look at and they can become a nuisance in a home when large numbers congregate indoors, but silverfish are also in the habit of seeking out and consuming human food, even unopened packages of stored food items. Silverfish prefer to consume human foods that are rich in carbohydrates and protein, such as flower, dried meat, oatmeal and cereals. These pests also feed on just about any item containing paper, such as books, important documents, photo albums and cardboard boxes. Silverfish also seem to have a taste for glue, which makes the binding of books a preferred snack for the pests.

Have you ever found items in your home that you believe had been damaged by silverfish?

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Pacific Deathwatch Beetles Infest Structural Wood Which Can Lead To Devastating Structural Damages In Some Cases

Pacific Deathwatch Beetles Infest Structural Wood Which Can Lead To Devastating Structural Damages In Some Cases

Termites are not the only wood-infesting insect pests in the United States, as carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and several beetle species in the country are well known for nesting within the structural wood in homes and buildings. Hemicoelus gibbicollis, is one wood-boring beetle species that is common in the southwest. This species is commonly referred to as the Pacific deathwatch beetle, and they are sometimes referred to as powderpost beetles despite this common name being attached to another wood-boring beetle species. Deathwatch beetles prefer to nest within softwoods, such as fir, or within weak, damp and decaying wood sources, which is why infestations are often found in high-moisture areas around homes, particularly in basements, cellars and crawl spaces. However, infestations can occur in a variety of indoor locations including floors, door frames, window sills, rafters, beams, stair railings and furniture. The damage these beetles inflict to wood can be devastating if infestations are not noticed for a long period of time, as infested structural wood has been known to collapse as a result of being hollowed out by deathwatch beetle larvae.

Once adult deathwatch beetles emerge from pupation during the spring, females place their eggs within narrow cracks and pores on natural and structural wood sources. Once larvae emerge from the eggs, they bore into wood where they excavate long tunnels, eventually causing infested wood to become hollow and in urgent need of replacement. Deathwatch beetles can remain in their larval stage for months or even years depending on environmental conditions, and larvae can also overwinter within structural wood before emerging. Larval feeding within wood produces a sawdust-like material that the larvae tightly pack within their tunnels, sometimes resulting in a blistered appearance on the surface of infested wood. Eventually, pupation takes place within the tunnels, causing newly formed adults to break through the surface of wood in order to fly away. Larvae inhabiting structural wood communicate with each other through tapping sounds which can be heard under some circumstances within infested homes. Centuries ago, many people interpreted this tapping as the ticking sounds made by a clock. This “ticking” indicated that an elderly or sickly person’s death was fast approaching, and this is how the insect pests got their common name.

Have you ever heard sounds produced by any type of insect pest within a home, with the exception of chirping crickets?

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Arizona Is The State That Sees The Greatest Number Of Venomous Arthropod Species

Arizona Is The State That Sees The Greatest Number Of Venomous Arthropod Species

Generally, warmer regions of the world see a greater number of venomous arthropods than colder regions of the world. Knowing this, it should not come as a surprise to learn that Arizona sees the greatest number of venomous arthropod species when compared to the other 49 US states, at least according to the Hazardous Animal Database. This database was created by the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, and it includes 500 venomous species worldwide that have been known to cause serious injury or death to humans.

Venomous arthropods in Arizona include scorpions, tarantulas, honey bees, wasps and spiders. There are several scorpion and tarantula species in Arizona, but none of these species will cause serious medical complications or fatalities except for the Arizona bark scorpion. Honey bee stings have led to hospitalizations and fatalities all over the US, but Arizona is one of only a few states where the aggressive and often deadly Africanized honey bee resides. In fact, studies show that all Arizona honey bees are now “Africnaized” due to nearly 30 years of interbreeding between common honey bees and Africanized honey bees.

The potentially deadly southern black widow species is abundant in Arizona, and the non-native brown widow has been spotted throughout the southern half of the state. Brown widows are not quite as dangerous as black widows, but their bites should not be taken lightly, and fatalities have occurred in response to brown widow bites. While the notoriously harmful and potentially deadly brown recluse cannot be found in Arizona, five other recluse species inhabit the state, out of the 13 total found in the US. This makes Arizona home to more recluse species than can be found in any other state.

The five brown recluse species in Arizona include L. apachea and L. sabina in the far southeastern corner of the state and L. kaipa, L. deserta, and L. arizonica in the western half of the state. With the exception of L. arizonica and L. deserta, these recluse species dwell in uninhabited regions where they are not likely to be encountered by people. However, a few documented reports described bites by other recluse species in the US as being just as harmful as brown recluse bites. Of all venomous arthropods in Arizona, Africanized honey bees cause the most annual fatalities.

Have you ever encountered a venomous arthropod?

 

 

 

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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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The Spines Of Buckmoth Caterpillars Cause Extremely Painful Stings Which Can Land People In The Hospital

Venomous caterpillar species can be found all over the United States. Some of the most commonly encountered species include tussock moth-caterpillars, flannel moth-caterpillars, saddleback moth-caterpillars, asp caterpillars and buckmoth caterpillars. Several venomous caterpillar species have been documented as inhabiting the Sonoran Desert region of southern Arizona, but buckmoth caterpillars are the most frequently encountered venomous caterpillar species in the state. These caterpillars possess numerous venomous “spines” that protrude from their body, and simply touching a specimen will cause these spines to become stuck in the skin where it continually releases venom. These spines are called “urticating hairs,” and they should only be removed from the skin with tape, as using fingers to pull out the hairs may squeeze more venom into the bloodstream, which intensifies the pain sensation. Unfortunately, these caterpillars often become abundant in residential yards where people often sustain stings while performing yard work.

Around 23 buckmoth caterpillar species have been documented in the southwest US, and these species are around 2 inches in length, and the exterior color of buckmoth caterpillars vary depending on the species. One of the most commonly encountered buckmoth caterpillar species in Arizona is named Hemileuca juno, and these caterpillars are often found grouped together on a variety of common tree species where they feed on leaves. It is not uncommon for buckmoth caterpillars to land on humans after falling from trees, and when this occurs, envenomation almost always results. Another buckmoth caterpillar species in the state, Hemileuca oliviae, dwells within grass where humans often sustain stings while walking. The venom of buckmoth caterpillars usually causes inflammatory dermatitis, and since the human body recognizes the venom as a foregin substance, allergic reactions sometimes result from stings. Most sting cases do not result in hospitalizations, but several cases of buckmoth caterpillar spines making contact with the eyes has resulted in serious medical consequences.

Do you believe that you have spotted a buckmoth caterpillar before?

 

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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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The Most Frightening Spiders That Are Likely To Show Up Within Arizona Yards, Gardens And Homes

When summer arrives and the weather warms up, all the creepy crawlies that people would rather not have anywhere near them come out of their hiding spots to bask in the glorious desert sun. As you might have guessed, the critters people most fear, those terrifying desert spiders, are the ones that come out in droves to enjoy the nice weather. Arizona is known for it’s rather frightening arachnids, some that are definitely deserving of your caution and respect, and others that look quite dangerous, but are really quite harmless. So, what spiders should you be wary of that you are likely to spot in your yard or home this summer?

The first of the two spiders that people need to be wary of at this time year is the infamous black widow, known for its black body with the red hourglass shape on its abdomen. At least they are easily recognized, if not exactly a creature you want to spot around your home. Both male and female black widow spiders during all the stages of their life cycle, even the eggs, so any that you find need to be very carefully removed. Their venom is a nerve toxin, so it acts on the nervous system. The initial bite might not even be felt, but can cause you to feel muscle pain, difficulty breathing, among other symptoms as the venom spreads. Black widow webs do not look like the neat, circular webs of other spider species, but rather messy-looking, with strands branching out in all different directions. Thankfully, black widow spiders are not usually found inside homes, and tend to appear in outbuildings such as sheds or garages. You should always shake out any shoes or clothing before putting them just to be safe.

The other spider you should be on the watch for is the Arizona brown spider, often mistaken for brown recluse spiders. They both look and have similarly dangerous venom, however, and so are often mistaken for each other and given the same treatment for bites. Arizona brown spiders appear two-toned, with their front being a tan color and the rear grey. They also have a dark brown mark on the front of their body that looks rather like a violin. They tend to stay away from the indoors of people’s homes, nesting in protected outside areas such as under pieces of wood or dead cactus. When they are found in more urban areas, it is usually because they are attached to these pieces of wood or dead cacti brought inside as firewood or for landscaping purposes. The Arizona brown spider is generally very timid and will only bite when they feel they are trapped or being attacked. The initial bite is often painless, with a blister forming over the area as time progresses. This blister can become an open ulcer, and lead to symptoms such as fever and nausea.

Have you ever been bitten by a black widow or Arizona brown spider? What were your symptoms?