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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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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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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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Why Many Residents Spot Termite Swarms Near Their Home Within A Year Following A Perimeter Treatment On Their Property

Colonies of subterranean and drywood termites contain numerous individuals that are divided into different groups, or “castes.” The worker caste accounts for the vast majority of individuals within a subterranean termite colony, and they are responsible for foraging, nest construction, and feeding and grooming nestmates. Drywood termite colonies are contained entirely within single wood items, making their habitat and food source one and the same. This makes foraging unnecessary and impossible, as drywood termites never leave the wood items that they colonize. However, nest expansion, nestmate feeding and other laborious tasks are carried out by nymphs, which are similar to workers in subterranean termite colonies.

Both subterranean and drywood termite colonies contain a soldier caste responsible for defending the colony, and of course, all termite colonies contain a queen and king. After a few years of colony maturation, queens produce alates, which are winged reproductives that take flight for a few months each year in order to establish new colonies as queen and king. Homeowners often become alarmed upon witnessing termites swarming within and near their home, especially when swarms are witnessed near homes that have recently undergone a perimeter barrier treatment for the purpose of preventing subterranean termite infestations.

In Arizona, both subterranean termites and drywood termites frequently infest homes, but subterranean termites inflict the greatest amount of damage to homes annually. When it comes to drywood termites, only alates leave the colony, and therefore, only alates initiate infestations in structural wood. Subterranean termite alates, establish new colonies in soil, and almost never in wood; instead, workers infest wood after encountering homes while foraging. The application of termiticide liquid beneath the ground around the perimeter of homes prevents workers from tunneling onto properties.

Oddly enough, it is not uncommon for homeowners to witness termite swarms occur near their home shortly after having a perimeter treatment applied to their property. This can lead homeowners to believe that their home remains vulnerable to termites, and this natural response is referred to as a “panic swarm” in the pest control industry. However, it should be known that the application of termiticide below the ground can put stress on nearby subterranean termite colonies that become exposed to the toxins. In order to ensure survival in these circumstances, swarming rates may increase as a biological response to environmental stress. Swarms should only be of concern when they occur indoors.

 

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Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

Will Recluse Spider Species Invade Homes Or Inflict Medically Hazardous Bites In Arizona?

The first recluse spider bite to be properly documented took place in Tennessee back in 1879, and not long afterward, many South American countries began documenting their own cases of recluse spider bites. Although these early documented cases describe the bite victims as developing tissue necrosis at the site of their wound, the severity of recluse spider bites did not become well known to the American public until the latter half of the 20th century. For the past two decades, the rate of medically significant recluse spider bite incidents have been increasing steadily in the US, and most reported bites are sustained within homes. In fact, some recluse spider species, mainly the brown recluse, dwell mainly indoors where thousands have been collected from single homes. Unfortunately, medical researchers have not yet developed an antivenom for brown recluse bites, and unsurprisingly, medical officials in the US and elsewhere consider recluse spiders a major public health threat.

The majority of reported recluse spider bites are inflicted by the brown recluse spider species (Loxosceles reclusa), but a total of 13 recluse spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, five of which can be found in Arizona. The recluse spider species found in Arizona include the desert recluse (L. deserta), the Arizona recluse (L. arizonica), the Apache recluse (L. apache) and L. sabina. Luckily, the indoor-dwelling brown recluse spider cannot be found in Arizona, but numerous scientific studies involving venom analysis and individual envenomation reports demonstrate that all recluse spider species inhabiting the US are equally as likely to inflict bite wounds that lead to tissue necrosis. In addition to the brown recluse, experts state that the Arizona recluse, the desert recluse, and the non-native Mediterranean recluse spider species are medically significant pests of homes in every area where they can be found. The Arizona recluse is abundant in much of the southern half of Arizona where specimens have been documented as inflicting bites that cause tissue necrosis and even shock. The desert recluse is rarely found indoors, as they prefer to dwell in the open desert, but rapidly expanding urban and suburban areas in southern Arizona may force humans and these spiders to share the same habitat in the near future.

Have you ever encountered a recluse spider species in Arizona?

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How Residents Can Make Bed Bugs Easier For Pest Control Professionals To Manage

How Residents Can Make Bed Bugs Easier For Pest Control Professionals To Manage

Along with termites, German cockroaches, and many ant species, bed bugs are the most difficult insect pests to control. Termites are difficult to control because they cannot be readily observed, most ant pests are difficult to control because they live in colonies containing thousands of workers that often establish multiple indoor nests. Cockroaches and bed bugs are both difficult to control due to the resistance they have developed to most insecticide formulations. Insecticide resistance in certain insect pests is one of several reasons as to why insecticides are no longer the primary method of pest control. In recent years, many effective non-toxic pest control methods have been developed. For example, high-heat treatments have become the standard for bed bug control, and insect growth regulators have proven effective for controlling German cockroaches. When it comes to both cockroaches and bed bugs, infestations can sometimes be eliminated without the use of any insecticides, but when it comes to heavy infestations, a minimal amount of insecticide is sometimes used to supplement other control methods.

When bed bugs are found within homes, professional pest control intervention is almost always required, but this does not mean that homeowners don’t play a role. For example, before pest control professionals arrive at a home to perform treatments, it is important for homeowners to make sure that the interior living space is well sanitized and free of clutter. While bed bugs are not necessarily more partial to cluttered homes, bed bugs do tend to establish more extensive infestations within cluttered homes. This is because bed bugs use dirty clothes, boxes, papers, and other objects that litter indoor floors as hiding spots, or “harborages.” The number of bed bugs within infested homes usually correlates with the number of potential harborages within homes. It’s also important to use caulk or another sealant product to cover cracks, crevices and other potential bed bug entry points on walls where the pests are well known to establish harborages. Infestations become tremendously difficult to eliminate once bed bugs become abundant within wall voids. If bed bugs are already present within wall voids, sealing them inside will result in their eventual death. So no matter where in a home bed bugs have become established, sealing access to potential harborages will help to reduce population numbers, which will also make the job of pest control professionals much less complicated.

Have you ever contacted a pest control professional about a bed bug pest issue in your home?

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The Black Polycaon Is The Most Common False Powderpost Beetle Pest In The Southwest

The Black Polycaon Is The Most Common False Powderpost Beetle Pest In The Southwest, And They Are Known For Infesting Wood In Furniture And Structural Lumber In Homes

More than 700 species make up the Bostrichidae family of beetles, and a small minority of these species are known pests of structural wood within homes and buildings. Beetle species in this family are commonly referred to as “false powderpost beetles,” and the most common species that infest and damage homes in the southwest are known as the leadcable borer (Scobicia declivis) and the black Polycaon (Polycaon stoutii). The other two families of wood-boring beetles known as powderpost and deathwatch beetles, see female adults deposit their eggs within crevices on the surface of wood. Once these eggs hatch, the emerging larvae bore into wood where they excavate interior tunnels, resulting in significant and costly structural damage. Unlike powderpost and deathwatch beetles, female adults in the false powderpost beetle family deposit their eggs within a tunnel that they themselves excavate. From there, emerging larvae continue to excavate tunnels and feed on wood, just like powderpost and deathwatch beetles.

The black polycaon is a relatively large species, as adults are between ½ and 1 inch in body length, and they are shiny black with front legs that stick out at right angles from the body. This species usually attacks softwoods, particularly plywood, but they have been found infesting hardwoods as well, such as oak furniture. Larvae rely on nutrients in wood for sustenance during their development, and once they reach adulthood, they carve out an exit hole around ¼ of an inch wide on the surface of infested wood. Maturation from egg to adult may take one year, or several years depending on conditions, and they are abundant in the natural environment in the southwest. Infestations are often initiated in structural wood after adult females gravitate toward porch lights and indoor lights. These beetles usually infest processed woods before they are used to construct furniture and other wooden items. Infested items can be treated with high heat, freezing temperatures, or fumigation, and heavy infestations within structural wood components in homes may require full-structure fumigation.

Have you ever purchased a wooden furniture item that had been infested with wood-boring beetles?

 

 

 

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Understanding How Filth Flies Detect Breeding Sites Allows Researchers To Develop More Effective Control Products And Repellents

Understanding How Filth Flies Detect Breeding Sites Allows Researchers To Develop More Effective Control Products And Repellents

A very large number of true fly species of the Diptera order of insects are known pests of homes and buildings, and the most common species that infest Arizona homes include house flies, fruit flies, drain flies, phorid flies, face flies, cluster flies, blow flies, black flies, horse flies, stable flies, soldier flies, and many more. Horse flies, stable flies and black flies are biting flies that are not known to infest homes, but they collect blood meals from humans, which may result in disease transmission, but such cases are very rare in the US. Unlike most indoor fly pests, cluster flies are not categorized as “filth flies,” and they usually invade homes only during the fall and winter seasons in order to secure a warm environment where they can overwinter.

Filth flies are species that breed on microbe-rich sources of decaying organic matter, such as excrement, animal carcasses, rotting food, scum buildup in drains and pipes, and garbage. Given their exceptionally disgusting breeding habits, filth flies are naturally covered in numerous disease-causing microorganisms that they smear on indoor surfaces, human foods, and in some cases, mucous membranes around the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If filth fly pests were not accustomed to deriving advantage from entering homes where they occasionally breed and contaminate foods, they would be considered beneficial for breaking down natural organic waste, and they would not be known as “filth flies.”

Female filth fly adults lay eggs on decaying organic matter in order to provide larvae with an abundance of food upon hatching. While filth fly breeding materials are common sources of disease for humans, filth flies derive their nourishment exclusively from sources of rotting organic matter. Female filth flies possess organs that are specifically designed to detect rotting organic materials, and they also rely on their sense of taste for selecting the most ideal breeding sites. For example, the antennae of female flies serve as odor-sensing organs that can detect suitable breeding sites from long distances, and their wings, body and ovipositor (egg laying organ) contain taste-receptor neurons that allow females to taste-test rotting organic materials in order to choose optimal breeding sites. Insect pest repellents like DEET taste awful to female flies, which is why DEET seems to work as a fly repellent as well as a mosquito repellent. Gaining a better understanding of the sensory abilities possessed by insect pests allows researchers to develop more effective pest control products.

Do you find that DEET repellents work to repel fly pests?

 

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How Common Are Carpenter Ant Pests Relative To Other Ant House Pests In Arizona

How Common Are Carpenter Ant Pests Relative To Other Ant House Pests In Arizona, And How Can The Most Common Carpenter Ant Pests In The State Be Recognized?

Numerous carpenter ant species can be found throughout the United States including well over a dozen species that are known pests of households. Carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus, and nearly all species are notable for establishing nests within decayed natural wood sources, and occasionally, sound wood sources, such as trees, stumps, logs, tree hollows and fallen branches. Unfortunately, many of the carpenter ant species that are known pests frequently establish nests within structural wood and other finished wood sources.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood; instead, they excavate long tunnels within wood solely for nesting. Much like termites, carpenter ants weaken structural wood components, and they generally nest within moist and decayed wood, but workers often nest within sound structural wood as well. The two most common carpenter ant pests in Arizona are Camponotus modoc, and  C. hyatti, the first of which is commonly known as the “black western carpenter ant,” and the latter has not been given a common name.

A recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals found carpenter ants to be the most commonly managed ant pests within homes. The most destructive carpenter ant species in the US, the black carpenter ant, cannot be found in Arizona, but the western black carpenter ant is abundant in Arizona, and it’s considered the second most common and damaging carpenter ant species in the country. Luckily for Arizona residents, there exists a relatively small number of carpenter ant pest species in the state, and harvester ants, southern fire ants, pyramid ants, leaf cutting ants, longhorn crazy ants and odorous house ants are found in Arizona homes more often than carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants are one of the largest bodied ant species in the US, as workers from both the western black carpenter ant and C. hyatti species are around ¼ to ½ of an inch in length. The western black carpenter species ant is by far the most common carpenter ant pest in Arizona, and workers of this species can be recognized by their black bodies and reddish legs. C. hyatti is not considered a major structural pest, and workers of this species can be recognized for their shiny black, and occasionally, reddish-brown body color.

Have you ever found unusually large ants in your home?