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Why Tiny Groups Of Springtails Often Infest Homes And Yards In Arizona

Why Tiny Groups Of Springtails Often Infest Homes And Yards In Arizona

While Arizona is, obviously, exceptionally dry and largely composed of arid desert soil, the state still contains numerous insect pest species that require moist conditions in order to survive. Some of these water-craving insects are native to the Sonoran desert, while others are not native. For example, Arizona is home to at least 40 documented mosquito species, most of which are native and cannot reproduce without finding pools of water for mating and egg-laying.

One non-native insect pest, that has established an invasive presence in southern Arizona is the Argentine ant. These ant pests are unique in that they can only survive in the state provided that they locate land that is heavily irrigated. After this insect pest invaded the state from South America, many experts were under the impression that it would rapidly die-off. Of course, this was not the case, and now, the Argentine ant is abundant in well-irrigated lawns and golf courses in Tucson, Phoenix and many other populated regions within the state.

Springtails are a group of arthropods that are no longer considered insects by some experts, but this topic is still under debate. Springtails are hexapod pests that also crave moist conditions, and these creatures are abundant in most areas of the world, including Arizona. Due to this tiny hexapod’s need for near constant water contact, it is considered a minor pest near moist areas within and near homes.

In Arizona, springtails are sometimes found floating in clusters on the surface of backyard swimming pools, and they also appear within bathroom sinks, bathtubs and on indoor plants. These Hexapods are now believed to be a part of the Collembola order, but when residents spot these pests, they are often assumed to be fleas due to the recognizable jumping behavior that they exhibit. However, springtails, unlike fleas, do not bite or spread disease, but like fleas, springtails are often found in grassy lawns. In some cases, springtails can become a nuisance on Arizona properties and in homes.

Do you believe that you have spotted springtails in the past?

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Swimming Pools And Wet Weather Are Causing Mosquito Populations To Skyrocket In One Neighborhood, And Bee Swarms Send Several People To The ER Within One Week

So far, 2019 has been an eventful year when it comes to dangerous encounters with flying insect species in Arizona. Earlier in May, a honey bee swarm sent three Phoenix residents to the hospital after they sustained numerous stings. A few days before this unfortunate incident occurred, a Gilbert construction worker sustained at least 100 stings from aggressive honey bees after locating an enormous hive within a home. This month’s bee attacks follow several other bee attacks that occurred earlier in the year in Arizona, one of which resulted in a fatality. Phoenix pest control experts and government-employed entomologists have announced an alarming increase in the amount of people who have become infected with the west Nile virus. These seemingly sudden mosquito-borne disease cases resulted from a massive surge in mosquito populations in a residential area of Phoenix.

On May 2nd, three individuals were sent to the ER after they sustained numerous honey bee stings. The victims included a 35 year old male, a 35 year old female, and a 13 year old. Beyond these details, little is known about the circumstances of the attack, but it seems as though at least four individuals encountered a bee hive in a residential area of Phoenix. The fourth individual declined medical treatment, and the bees were later contained.

Pest controllers and bee removal professionals in Arizona have stated that bee-related service requests are particularly frequent among residents already this year. One bee removal expert removed a massive hive from a property after coming to the aid of a victim who sustained 100 honey bee stings that originated from the hive. The worker was clearing a vacant house when the attack occurred. According to the bee removal specialist, the hive was 3 by 4 feet in size.

In response to several people from a residential region of Phoenix testing positive for the west Nile virus, Maricopa County Vector Control workers are struggling to contain the area’s massive mosquito population. The county believes that the recent wet weather and an abundance of swimming pools in the area allowed mosquitoes to breed out of control. In an effort to reduce the mosquito population, the county is issuing free mosquito-eating fish for residents to place into their swimming pools.

Do you ever avoid going outdoors in fear of mosquito-borne diseases?

 

 

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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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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?

 

 

 

 

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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.

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A Woman Is Found With A Maggot Living Inside Of Her Forehead

A Woman Is Found With A Maggot Living Inside Of Her Forehead

Visiting exotic locations overseas can be a lot of fun, but danger lurks around every corner. While vacationing, several things can go wrong, such as lost luggage, lost passports, muggings, pickpocketing, illness and, of course, falling victim to parasitic and insect-borne diseases. Tropical regions around the world see the greatest rate of insect-borne disease cases and parasitic infections. It goes without saying that researching the potentially dangerous insects that dwell in a region where a person plans to vacation is a smart course of action. It is not uncommon for Americans and Europeans to fall victim to insect-borne diseases and parasitic infections while visiting a tropical paradise. For example, several days after returning home from a trip to Uganda, a British woman learned that she had a maggot infesting her forehead.

Initially, the British woman did not experience any symptoms that would have indicated that a fly larva had been developing within her forehead, but nine days after returning home, the woman noticed a swollen lump on her forehead. Naturally concerned, the woman did not waste any time reporting to the doctor where she was told that she had sustained an insect bite. The woman was then given a prescription for antibiotics before leaving the hospital. However, only three days later, the woman returned to the hospital with worsened symptoms, as the swelling on her forehead grew significantly and extended to her eyelids. The woman also complained of shooting pains in her face. Upon closer examination, doctors discovered that a tiny pin prick-like hole existed at the center of the swelling. A fluid discharge was noted as oozing out of this opening. In response to this finding, doctors decided to run more tests, as they were concerned that she had contracted a serious disease while traveling in Uganda. As it turns out, the opening had been a small breathing hole for the maggot that had infested her forehead. In order to coax the maggot toward the opening so that it could be removed, doctors plugged the opening, resulting in the maggot’s air supply being cut off. The maggot intruder was removed and identified as Lund’s fly larva, which is a fly species native to African rainforests. Not only is the Lund’s fly not associated with infections of this sort, but the forehead is not typically selected as a nesting spot for developing insect offspring.

Have you ever heard of a maggot being discovered nesting within a person’s body?

 

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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?

 

 

 

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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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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?

 

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Do Insects Expel Liquid Waste?

Do Insects Expel Liquid Waste Like Humans And Other Animals Do?

For those of you who have ever wondered if insects urinate in the same manner as humans and other mammals, you are in luck, as numerous studies exist that have explored this very topic. Of course insects expel waste, but not many insects expel waste in liquid form. However, some insects do, and a few expel massive amounts of liquid waste. In order to address this particular topic accurately, it may be necessary to define urination. If urination is taken to mean the expulsion of liquid waste from the genitals, then it can be said with certainty that this is not the typical manner in which insects expel waste. Most insects expel only one form of waste despite consuming both liquids as well as solid food items.

Insect waste is usually expelled in the form of mucky droppings. The excretory system of insects can be found in their gut, as they do not possess true kidneys as mammals do. However, many insects possess what are called Malpighian tubules. These are tubes that protrude from their guts in order to filter nitrogenous excreta from the blood. Although the collected nitrogenous excreta is a fluid, it is not expelled as a fluid because it winds up in the hindgut where it is reabsorbed for hydration purposes. Nitrogenous excreta is the closest thing to urine that insects possess, but since it is redirected to the hindgut where solid waste exists before ultimately being reabsorbed, insect waste is expelled through one single orifice. Considering this excretory process, it could be said that most insects do not urinate at all; instead, insects only defecate. For example, caterpillars do not urinate, but they do often defecate. Caterpillar feces is commonly spotted by gardeners in the form of tiny black bags around plant stems. Of course, numerous insects do expel liquid waste, but they are in the minority. Aphids expel a droplet of liquid waste called honeydew which provides other insects with a tasty snack. Cicadas are notorious for expelling voluminous amounts of liquid waste, as some unlucky outdoorsmen have been inadvertently showered with the fluid while standing beneath a tree canopy inhabited by the insects.

Have you ever witnessed an insect expelling waste of any form?