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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?