Nelson Ruiz No Comments

One Of The Most Difficult Insect Pests To Eradicate From A Home Are Abundant Within Arizona

It is not uncommon for pest control professionals in Arizona to receive calls from concerned residents about small black bugs with orange spots infesting various areas of a home. These creatures are commonly known as carpet beetles, and they are notorious for being one of the most difficult insect pests to control within homes and buildings. Unfortunately, there exists three carpet beetle species in Arizona. These species are commonly known as the varied carpet beetle, the black carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle.

Most of the carpet beetle specimens that are brought into the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension offices by residents hoping to have the insects identified originated either from inhabited homes or from storage areas where keratin-rich materials, like feathers and certain textiles, are abundant. When carpet beetles invade homes they plant their eggs on any sort of material containing keratin. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein found in hair, skin, animal furs, clothing textiles, dried plant matter, rugs, carpeting and a variety of other materials. These materials are targeted by adult carpet beetles looking to plant their eggs within a keratin-rich environment that will supply their developing larvae with an abundance of food after they emerge from their eggs.

Carpet beetles inflict damage to clothing that is similar in appearance to the damage that some moth species inflict on clothing. But carpet beetle damage is usually clustered in one area of clothing or carpet, while moth damage is more sporadic. Unlike moth pests, carpet beetles shed their exoskeletons when they molt. These brown-colored and shell-like exoskeleton castings are usually visible within an area where the larvae had caused damage. The presence of these castings allow residents and pest control experts to discern carpet beetle damage from other forms of insect damage.

Carpet beetles are difficult to control, as these insects can find food in a variety of different locations, and they disperse rapidly throughout a structure. The most effective way to prevent carpet beetle infestations is to reduce the amount of lint, hair, dead plant matter, dead insect matter and any other forms of matter within a home that carpet beetles feed upon. It is particularly important to eliminate all spider and cobwebs from within a home, as these webs provide carpet beetles with a substantial amount of sustenance. Regular dusting and vacuuming can greatly reduce a homeowner’s chances of falling victim to a carpet beetle infestation.

Have you ever found a large amount of insects within your home that you could not identify?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Why The Arachnid Population Explosion During Arizona’s Monsoon Season Attracts Thousands Of People To The State Every Year

Why The Arachnid Population Explosion During Arizona’s Monsoon Season Attracts Thousands Of People To The State Every Year

Arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, are hard to come by in the concrete jungles of Arizona’s most urbanized locations. In fact, the downtown centers in cities like Phoenix and Tucson make even local residents forget that they are living within a desert that contains some of the world’s best known creepy-crawlies. It can be shocking to consider the millions of arachnids that are active just outside of these urban centers, but suburbanites in the state encounter these critters regularly. It is not uncommon for Arizona residents to hunt scorpions at night with the assistance of a black light that makes the creatures glow. However, during monsoon season, and for a few weeks afterward, tarantulas are sometimes spotted crawling into urban landscapes. They are spotted more frequently in suburban homes during this time of year as well. This is due to the arachnid population explosion that occurs during monsoon season, as the heavy rains and lingering moisture allow for vegetation and arthropod life in the Sonoran Desert region to thrive. Due to the seemingly sudden abundance of arachnid life that emerges in the Arizona desert during monsoon season, people from all over the world travel to the state in order to capture a few of their own specimens. The arachnids are captured for a variety of reasons, mostly for profit and research.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, monsoon season brings tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world to the state each year. Certain tarantula and scorpion species are the most common arthropods to be snatched up. These creatures are taken for research purposes, or to be placed within zoos. But the largest group of visitors may be the profiteers looking to sell tarantulas and other arthropods to pet stores located all over the world. During the annual “Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference” in Arizona, vendors can be seen selling a variety of arthropods to eager tourists. The most popular arthropods sold during the conference are tarantulas, black widows, scorpions, ant queens and vinegaroons. Every year, researchers discover at least one new arthropod species in the region, such as the recently described northern giant flag moth. Of course, not even these species are immune to the demand of the arthropod marketplace. For example, this recently discovered moth is now sold for around 700 dollars, and they can be even more expensive if a female specimen is included along with her eggs.

Would you enjoy searching the desert landscape for interesting or particular arthropods?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

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?

 

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Lawmakers Oppose Funding Into Edible Insect Research

It is probably fair to say that most of the American public is disgusted by edible insect meals. Now, lawmakers in the United States are disgusted by the government funds going into edible insect research. Most Americans want nothing to do with edible insects, so it is likely that they do not want to see their tax dollars being spent on research into eating bugs. This is why lawmakers from multiple states have gone on the record in their opposition to edible insect research being funded with taxpayer money. In fact, some politicians are attempting to pass a bill that would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars in edible insect research projects.About Pest Control in Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek

Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona is leading the charge against federally funded edible insect research. Flake is not opposed to edible insects, but he does not want taxpayer dollars going to startup businesses that specialize in edible insect production. According to Flake, this type of spending is just another example of careless government spending. Flake is not alone, as he and many other senators and congressman are looking to make amendments to a particular House spending package that allows government entities to spend as much as 100,000 dollars on edible insect projects. Flake’s amendment would block taxpayer dollars from going into the hands of edible insect companies.

One business owner who specializes in cricket feed says he has not yet felt the heat from Senator Flake. The California-based business is called Tiny Farms Inc., and it is run by Andrew Brentano, who is currently serving as the company’s CEO. According to Brentano, his business, as well as many others he knows of, has received funding from the USDA with no problems. Brentano firmly believes that federal funding into edible insects is not a waste of money, as edible insects could end up saving billions if it were to displace livestock meat as the primary source of protein for Americans.

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

A University Student Is Not Tolerating Her Insect And Spider Infested Dorm

A University Student Is Not Tolerating Her Insect And Spider Infested Dorm And One Company Is Forcing Employees To Eat Cockroaches

Many people who are currently attending college can tell you that dorm rooms leave much to be desired. There are not many 18 year old college freshman who expected their dorm room to resemble a hotel suite, but certainly no dorm resident should have to tolerate cockroach and spider infestations. While finding a cockroach or two within one’s dorm room may not be uncommon for many college students, one student at the University of Louisville in Kentucky is making the whole world know that officials are doing nothing to clear the cockroach infestation from her dorm room.

The student recently posted pictures of the cockroaches and spiders in her dorm room to social media sites in an effort to motivate university officials into hiring a pest control professional to address the infestation. The pictures were posted with an accompanying description of her situation. The student’s plan worked, as her situation was reported by a local news station, which prompted the university’s housing authorities into responding to her complaints. A spokesperson for the university even went as far as to send a letter to the news station explaining how seriously the university is taking the student’s complaints. The letter claimed that other past complaints from students concerning insect infestations in their dorm rooms were promptly addressed by university officials, and the university is working closely with the current student in order to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe in China, employees are being forced to eat cockroaches by their managers.

Three managers that worked at a home improvement store in southern China have been jailed for making employees consume cockroaches and other disgusting items. The managers reportedly made only those employees who failed to make sales targets consume cockroaches. The managers were arrested after a former employee posted pictures and a description of the humiliating punishments to a social media site. Hopefully the victims of this cruel form of abuse can find satisfaction in the perpetrator’s incarceration, but at least the managers were dedicated to maximizing company profits.

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

A 130 Million Year Old Fossil Contains Insects

Discovering ancient insects that are well preserved within amber is always exciting for entomologists, but a recent fossil discovery is unlike anything ever discovered before. A recent study describes a fossil that contains insects that are emerging from their eggs. This is an extraordinarily unique find and researchers are not exactly sure how such a fossil could come to exist. Also, the insects contained within the amber possess a strange anatomical feature that allows them to break free from their hard egg shells. These fossilized insects are now extinct, but they are closely related to modern green lacewings.

The tool that these extinct insects used to break free from their shells is aptly referred to as an “egg buster.” According the study’s author, Dr. Michael Engel, egg bursting anatomical features detach from the bodies of newborn insects very quickly, but this recent fossil is the only one in existence that shows this feature on extinct insects. The fossil was determined to be 130 million years old, which means that this egg bursting bodily feature existed on insects as far back as the cretaceous period, a fact that was previously unknown to experts. The fossil also demonstrates that egg bursting physical features have not changed much over the past 130 million years of insect evolution. However, researchers are not in precise agreement concerning the circumstances that allowed these newborn insects to become fossilized within amber right as they were hatching. The most likely scenario is that the eggs had been placed on a tree trunk before sap bled from the trees, effectively covering the insects right as they were hatching. Egg bursting features are diverse in shape and location, but the fossilized insects possess an egg bursting appendage that resembles the ones possessed by their modern relatives living in the same location. This feature resembles a jagged blade and it is quickly discarded upon hatching.

Have you ever witnessed an insect hatching from its egg?

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

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?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Disease-Carrying Fleas Sometimes Infest Homes In Arizona And They Are The Same Ones That Caused The Bubonic Plague

Disease-Carrying Fleas Sometimes Infest Homes In Arizona And They Are The Same Ones That Caused The Bubonic Plague

Plague-ridden fleas are well known to have facilitated the spread of the most destructive pandemics in history, most notably the bubonic plague. While the plague is no longer considered a serious public health threat, fleas still spread the disease in parts of Africa and even within the western United States. The plague-carrying flea species that exists in the western US is the very same species that spread the plague in Europe centuries ago. This flea species is commonly known as the oriental rat flea, and plague carrying specimens have been spotted in two Arizona counties as recently as 2017.

It may surprise some people to learn that oriental rat fleas exist in the US, but this species can be found worldwide, even ones that carry the plague. Despite this species common name, two researchers, N.C. Rothschild and Karl Jordan, first identified this species in Egypt back in 1903. These fleas are abundant wherever their host animals are found, which are mainly rats. Therefore, ORFs commonly dwell within sewer systems, and they prefer warm and humid tropical and subtropical habitats. ORF species are far less common in cold areas, but they have been found in sub-arctic conditions.

It is certainly not unheard of for homes to become infested with ORFs, as they often accompany rat infestations. Not only have plague-carry fleas of this species been found in Arizona, but a recent study confirmed that numerous rats within New York City also carry the dreaded disease. Researchers collected more than 133 Norway rats in New York City which were infested with 6,500 types of mites, fleas and lice. Of these 6,500 pests, 500 were ORFs. Despite the relatively smaller population of rats within urban areas of the southwest US, more people become infected with the plague in this region than anywhere else in America. In the southwest, ORFs infest prairie dogs and squirrels as their hosts, and roughly 10 people each year become infected with the plague in states like Arizona and California.

Were you aware that plague-carrying fleas are more common in the southwest US than in any other US region?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How The Irish Potato Famine Led To A Deadly Outbreak Of Diseased Lice In The United States

Typhus fever is an infectious disease that was considered a significant public health threat in most populated regions of the world prior to the 20th century. According to the World Health Organization, the disease is relatively rare these days, as only 1 in 5 million people fall ill from typhus fever worldwide each year. To be precise, typhus fever comprises three distinct infectious diseases, each of which is normally associated with a particular arthropod. These diseases are known as epidemic typhus, scrub typhus and murine typhus. Scrub typhus is spread by chiggers and murine typhus is spread by fleas. Epidemic typhus spreads rapidly within dense populations by means of body lice, making this form of typhus the deadliest, most widespread and most historically significant of the three types.

The most notable outbreak of epidemic typhus in the United States occurred in 1846, which is the same year that the Irish potato famine occured. These two events share a causal relationship, as the disease was transported to the US by starving Irish immigrants who were escaping their impoverished conditions back home. Prior to this American epidemic in 1846, a smaller-scale typhus outbreak occurred a decade prior in Philadelphia. This outbreak was found to have originated within an impoverished Irish community. Since many longtime American citizens felt threatened by the rapid spread of the disease via body lice, anti-Irish sentiment became common in the northeast US. By the time the massive waves of Irish immigrants brought the diseased lice with them to the US, citizens of the US had already started to associate the disease with Irish populations.

Despite Americans’ fear of contracting diseased lice from nearby populations of Irish immigrants, typhus fever remained almost exclusively limited to the Irish immigrant population. For example, in just one New York hospital, 138 patients with typhus fever were admitted in just a one month period in 1847, but only five of these patients were regular American citizens. The same year, a New Orleans hospital accepted 1,045 typhus patients, only 9 percent of which were non-Irish immigrants. Unfortunately, New Orleans suffered epidemics of typhus after charitably treating Irish typhus victims in the city’s hospitals. A vaccine for typhus prevention does not exist, but antibiotic treatment is often sufficient to eradicate the disease in the rare cases when it occurs.

Do you fear that the United States could once again fall victim to disease-carrying insects transported into the country by immigrants?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

Phasmids are a particular order of insects that are more commonly known as stick insects. Phasmids comprise an abundance of species located in various regions of the world. Scientists have documented around 3,000 different phasmid species, but more are being found regularly. Phasmids are closely related to crickets, praying mantids, cockroaches and katydids. Most people will recognize an immediate association between the well-camouflaged praying mantid and the cryptic phasmid, as phasmids hide from predators by using their stick-like appearance to blend in with foliage, hence their common name, stick insects. Although phasmids and praying mantids are both blessed with the evolutionary gift of camouflage, praying mantids are carnivorous and predatory while phasmids are herbivores and relatively passive. Considering this difference, phasmids are far more reliant on their natural camouflaged appearance for their survival than praying mantids are. However, this does not necessarily mean that phasmids are doomed to being eaten alive when a predator manages to see through their disguise.

Unfortunately for female phasmid species, only the males are able to use their wings in order to make airborne escapes from predators. When a female phasmid becomes aware that it is being eyed by a predator, it will attempt to perform natural-looking movements in order to escape the predator’s visual contact. For example, a female phasmid may move itself behind an object in a manner that makes it look like a leaf being blown in the wind. If this particular method is not an option, or has failed, then a female phasmid can violently flicker its wings as a show of intimidation to deter predators from attacking. In order to compensate for their inability to make airborne escapes, some female phasmid species can intimidate predators by exposing a colorful stripe located beneath one of their wings. In the insect and spider world, bright colors on insect and spider bodies indicates their toxicity to predators. Although female phasmid species are not toxic to predators, some species have, nevertheless, acquired the colorful stripe as a survival adaptation. This colorful stripe only becomes visible during the female’s defensive display.

Have you ever witnessed the violent defeat of an insect by another smaller insect?