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Summer Prevention Tips

It’s officially summertime – the season of backyard barbeques, pool parties and campfires. But, with a general uptick in time spent outdoors during the warmer months comes an increased risk of encountering yellowjackets, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects, Magic Pest Control forewarns.

Stinging insects are most active in the summer and early fall as they forage for food, which is why we frequently see them abuzz around our properties this time of year. Reports state that stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, so it’s important to take the proper precautions to keep them at bay, especially during outdoor gatherings with family and friends where food and drinks are often abundant.

Magic Pest Control recommends heeding the following expert advice from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) on stinging insect prevention:

  • Seal all visible cracks and crevices to keep stingers from moving indoors, and regularly inspect around the perimeter of the home for nests.
  • During a picnic, cover all food when outside and be sure to keep tight fitting lids on trash bins.
  • Drink out of clear containers, as stinging insects can sneak into aluminum cans unnoticed.
  • If spending long periods of time outdoors, skip the perfume, cologne or scented body wash in favor of unscented shampoos, soaps and lotions. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas where hornets and other pests often nest.
  • If you find a stinging insect nest on the property, don’t attempt to remove it on your own. Instead, contact a licensed pest control professional.

We certainly encourage people to enjoy spending time in the great outdoors this summer, but we also advise them to be ever mindful of stinging insects. If you do see a yellowjacket flying around the bowl of watermelon, the best advice I can give is don’t swat at it.

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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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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?

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Everything Residents Need To Know About Fabric Pest Control Involving Home Cleaning And Professional Dry Cleaning

Everything Residents Need To Know About Fabric Pest Control Involving Home Cleaning And Professional Dry Cleaning

It is not uncommon to find moths hovering around porch lights, and they can be an occasional nuisance in homes, but they are not typically found in dark closets, attics or storage rooms. However, some moth species often invade homes where they infest and damage clothing and other fabrics. When moths are found fluttering near clothing, carpeting, fur, rugs and other textiles, a clothes moth infestation has likely been established. In addition to clothes moths, many beetle species are known fabric pests. Fabric pest infestations are tremendously difficult to manage, but there are several ways in which homeowners can prevent and control fabric pest infestations.

Both beetle and moth species that feed on keratin in textiles and other manmade products are categorized as “fabric pests.” While fabric pests readily feed on fabrics that contain keratin like wool, silk, cashmere and even leather, they will also obtain nutrients by consuming perspiration that has been absorbed in dirty clothing and furniture upholstery. Fabric pests also readily eat rugs, kennel upholstery, and carpeting due to the large amount of pet fur, human hair, nail clippings, dead skin and other forms of biological waste accumulate on these fabric sources.

The first step in fabric pest management is cleaning out infested rooms and inspecting all fabrics for damage or for the presence of beetle or moth larvae. Beetle larvae are commonly referred to as “grubs,” and they somewhat resemble white maggots, only grubs are often shaped more like a bean, and some species are covered in thick hairs. Moth larvae are commonly referred to as “caterpillars,” and most people can recognize caterpillar pests by their small worm-like bodies that feature varying patterns of prickly hairs. All infested items should be discarded, and infested rooms should be vacuumed, dusted and thoroughly sanitized to prevent the pests from returning.

Having infested clothing dry-cleaned will eliminate fabric pests, and while home-washing appliances will eliminate fabric pests, it is recommended that infested clothing be dried outdoors in the sun where the natural light is hazardous to the pests. Before storing clothing, furs and textiles, all items that contain keratin should be dry-cleaned, as doing so will protect the clothing from fabric pest damage.

Have you ever found moths fluttering about in your home?

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How Baits And Surface Sprays Can Control Flies Around Homes

How Baits And Surface Sprays Can Control Flies Around Homes

Flies are a constant bane in human lives. They ruin our picnics and barbecues, fly right into our face and onto our food, and are an actual threat to our health due to the disgusting germs and bacteria they pick up along their travels and then throw up onto our food or body every time they land somewhere. As you can imagine, an abundance of fly pests can cause some problems in human’s lives. When nothing else works, there are commercial baits and sprays you can turn to as a last resort before calling in a pest control professional.

In certain situations you can find a gathering of flies that begin to congregate outside homes, hanging around on the walls and other nearby surfaces. This can obviously cause problems for people that want to use their patio, porches, backyards, and other outdoor areas. Many of these flies can make their way inside homes when humans open doors to go outside or in, creating even more problems with these pests. There are commercially available insecticides that are marked as outdoor residual surface sprays that can be used in this situation. You can find these treatments in a concentrated form that you have to mix with water to dilute them before using them, in pre-diluted formulas, and in ready-to-use sprays. The proper way to use them, which should always be included on the product label, is to spray the surfaces on which the flies congregate.

If house flies are the main pest, using fly bait strips may also help. They are designed to attract house flies to them, so you don’t want to put them near doorways. They are intended for outdoor use only, and have a pretty potent odor. There are also indoor space sprays that you can use to deal with flies that come indoors. These commercially available aerosol sprays will give short term, immediate help controlling flies. You place the space sprays with the aerosol spray directed upwards inside a room for a specified period of time, vacating the room and keeping it closed off for the amount of time required. Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work, it might be time to call in the professionals.

Have you ever had a serious fly problem around your home? What did you do to try and control it?

 

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Repeatedly Finding One Type Of Insect Within A Home Is Indicative Of A Pantry Pest Infestation

Stored product pests, or “pantry pests,” are insect pests that infest foods stored within homes, grocery stores and food warehouses. Some pantry pest species invade warehouses and infest stored foods before they are packaged and delivered to grocery stores, while other pantry pest species are more notable for infesting foods stored within homes. Some of the most common pantry pest species that infest stored foods within homes include indianmeal moths, flour beetles, drugstore beetles and sawtoothed grain beetles. In addition to invading food packages and feeding on the contents, pantry pests lay eggs within food packages in order to provide their larval offspring with adequate sustenance upon hatching. Most pantry pests are moth and beetle species, and their larval offspring, which are commonly referred to as caterpillars and grubs, respectively, are responsible for infesting and contaminating stored foods. Most caterpillar and grub pantry pests mature slowly and over relatively long periods of time, so repeatedly spotting the same insect pests within a home is often a sign that a pantry pest infestation has been established.

The indian meal moth is one of the most common indoor insect pests, as homeowners frequently send specimens to extension offices for identification. The adult moths have tan and copper colored wings, and although they are nocturnal, they can often be seen flying around homes during the daytime. When indian meal moths are spotted flying around homes, it is likely that females have already deposited eggs within food packages. Full grown caterpillar larvae are cream colored and around 13 mm in length, and they are known for infesting a variety of grain products, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, powdered milk, bird seed, and dog food. Once the larvae reach maturity, they leave the food source where they developed in order to search for a proper place to pupate. During this stage larvae are frequently found on ceilings, walls, tables and countertops. In order to eliminate infestations, all infested food products must be located and discarded. In some infestation cases, removing all infested food items is sufficient for elimination, but heavier infestations require a minimal application of insecticide.

Have you ever found several moths in your home?