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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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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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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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Can The Giant Redheaded Centipede Be Found In Arizona?

Centipedes are unpleasant creatures, and most species inflict venomous and painful bites to humans. Most people do not often have contact with centipedes, except of course for the common house centipede, which can be found all over North America where they commonly infest homes. These centipedes rarely grow beyond an inch in a half, and given how unsettling these creatures are, you can imagine how unpleasant it must be to spot a centipede exceeding 8 inches in length. Unfortunately, one such species that grows this large can be found in Arizona, but luckily, the species does not enter households as often as the house centipede in the state. This species is commonly known as the “redheaded centipede,” or the “giant desert centipede,” and their massive size allows them to feed on lizards, frogs and rodents. As you can imagine, sustaining a bite from one of these centipede species is extremely unpleasant. In fact, one redheaded centipede specimen was recently found to have killed a snake.

The redheaded centipede can be found in the southwest desert regions of the US, but the species is also found in Louisiana, proving that it does not have a problem surviving in humid conditions. This species even prefers to dwell in dark and humid areas, which is why stumbling across a specimen in your basement is not out of the question. It’s best for people to avoid this centipede species entirely, as their penetrating bite alone is painful, let alone the stinging sensation produced by the venom. This species’ mouthparts consists of two large fangs that can easily pierce skin. In most bite cases, victims develop local swelling and pain that subsides within a matter of days, but some rare cases have seen bite victims experience systemic symptoms, such as nausea and headaches. Fatalities due to this species’ bite is not impossible, as one bite case saw a man die from a heart attack.

Have you ever spotted a centipede that you believe exceeded 6 inches?

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What You Need To Know To Minimize The Risk Of Sustaining Bites From West Nile-Infected Mosquitoes

What You Need To Know To Minimize The Risk Of Sustaining Bites From West Nile-Infected Mosquitoes

As many Arizona residents may have already learned, the west Nile virus is now a permanent component of southern Arizona’s ecosystem, making the diseased insects particularly prevalent around residential and urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Last May, state officials collected 87 mosquito specimens carrying the virus, which is up from a mere seven samples found in the same area of Phoenix last year. Unfortunately, the west Nile virus is not the only mosquito-borne disease to fear in Arizona, as officials also collected 53 specimens that were carrying St. Louis Encephalitis. This figure is up from only two cases of the disease found this time last year. The first west Nile disease case of the year in Arizona was confirmed last February in Maricopa county, and the mosquito season lasts from May through October in the state, so mosquito activity is not yet at its peak. In addition to this case, another west Nile disease case has likely infected a resident of Pima County. Needless to say, mosquito bites are of greater concern than ever before in Arizona. However, there are plenty of precautions that residents can take to prevent bites.

The west Nile virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito species, which is now abundant in southern Arizona. This particular mosquito species relies almost exclusively on standing water sources located in residential and urban areas in order to breed. Yards that contain an abundance of stagnant water sources will certainly see an abundance of mosquitoes. Removing standing water from residential yards will keep these mosquitoes away from human-populated areas and will also decrease the overall population size of the species. Even containers as small as a bottle cap can hold a sufficient amount of water for larval development. It is also important for residents to apply mosquito repellent before setting foot outdoors, especially when planning to remain outdoors for an extended period of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using repellents that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Products that contain DEET and are designed to repel Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are the most important aspects of an effective mosquito repellent.

Do you worry about sustaining bites from disease-carrying mosquitoes around your home?

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A Citywide Outbreak Of Odorous Stink Beetles Perplex And Disgust Residents

A Citywide Outbreak Of Odorous Stink Beetles Perplex And Disgust Residents

Beetles may be the most species-rich group of insects on the planet, and many beetle species have been categorized as pests. However, most beetle pests infest and damage trees and plants, as many gardeners have come to learn. Very few beetle pests invade homes, and beetle epidemics that see thousands of specimens invading homes and business in large cities are unheard of, well almost unheard of, anyway. Last April, massive amounts of beetles laid siege to residential and urban areas of Bullhead City. The worst aspect of this invasion was the foul-smelling defensive fluids that the beetles secrete when they become threatened or when they are squished.

Last spring, residents of Bullhead City could not help but notice the abundance of beetle corpses and live beetles littering parking lots, residential lawns, parks and busy streets. Many of the beetles found their way indoors, and the ones that didn’t rapidly succumbed to dehydration. According to one pest control expert, all the beetles that had been found in the city resulted from unusually high moisture levels that persisted since the beginning of the year in the northwest region of Arizona. The frequent bouts of rain during the winter and the consequent overgrowth of vegetation during the spring caused the beetles to invade the city en masse.

Employees at a local Ace Hardware store removed both dead and live beetles from the area surrounding the store for weeks. Thousands of beetles could be seen outside Kohl’s and Target where corpses became so abundant that the parking lot became slippery in some places. Many dogs and cats in the city quickly learned that the beetles make for a lousy meal, as several pet owners claimed that their dog or cat quickly spat a beetle out quickly after collecting it from the ground. The reason the pets did this is due to this particular beetle species’ defensive secretions. The beetles in question are known as “desert stink beetles” in Arizona, as the beetles are well known to gather around outside lights during the spring, summer and fall. The defensive fluid secreted by these beetles causes intolerable irritation, providing these beetles with an ideal way to avoid being eaten alive.

Have you ever caught a whiff of smelly odors secreted by insects?

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Millipedes Can Invade Arizona Homes Where They Sometimes Spray A Painful And Irritating Compounds Onto Human Skin

Millipedes Can Invade Arizona Homes Where They Sometimes Spray A Painful And Irritating Compounds Onto Human Skin

Many Arizona residents have likely encountered large and intimidating centipedes within rural and suburban habitats, and few residents have managed to avoid encounters with common house centipedes. Millipedes look similar to centipedes and they are commonly spotted within urban, rural and residential yards. It is not uncommon for millipedes to infest homes in Arizona in large numbers. Once millipedes enter homes in the state they often gravitate to dark corners where residents often sustain chemical burns from millipede secretions. The millipede species, Orthoporus ornatus, has probably been encountered around homes, in parks or just about any natural environment where soil can be found. The common Orthoporus ornatus millipede species, which is more commonly referred to as the “desert millipede,” is also considered a household pest in Arizona, and it is not uncommon for residents to sustain chemical burns after accidentally or deliberately making contact with these arthropods within and near homes.

The desert millipede is often found within residential yards in large numbers following storms during monsoon season, and these millipede pests often move into homes where internal moisture levels can sustain the species. An abundance of vegetation growth alongside foundations provide moist conditions that are ideal for desert millipedes and once large number become established around a home’s foundation, preventing the millipedes from moving indoors can be difficult. Millipedes may also feed on ornamental and garden flowers, but the damage they inflict to these aesthetically appreciated plants is usually minimal, even within yards that become highly infested. This species favors cholla, creosote bush, ocotillo, and mesquite forms of decaying plant material for feeding purposes. The desert millipede often curls its 6 inch long body into a coil in response to threats. Unfortunately, this US millipede species is unique for its ability to spray a painful toxic secretion as far as ten feet within a home. If this secretion makes contact with the eyes, partial or complete blindness can result. This species toxic defensive secretion contains benzoquinones, aldehydes, hydrocyanic acid, phenols, terpenoids, nitromethylbenzene, and other substances. However, serious burns and skin discoloration resulting from skin contact with this millipede’s sections are rarely reported, and in many cases, Arizona residents keep them as pests.

Have you ever found a desert millipede specimen within your home?

 

 

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Repeat Fly Invasions Within A Phoenix Healthcare Facility Caused Maggots To Take Form Within A Patient’s Wound

Repeat Fly Invasions Within A Phoenix Healthcare Facility Caused Maggots To Take Form Within A Patient’s Wound

Not long ago, Arizona lawmakers passed a law requiring all intermediate healthcare facilities in the state to be licensed. A recent and deplorable insect infestation case at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix proves that this law was most certainly in order, as a patient in the facility was found to be literally infested with maggots. The maggots were found nesting within an existing wound on the body of a 28 year-old male patient. In response to this disturbing find, the Arizona Department of Health Services has issued an intent to revoke the facility’s license.

The health services department has accused Hacienda HealthCare as providing grossly inadequate care to its patients. Officials claimed that immediate action is necessary in order to protect patients within the facility from neglect that could possibly result in worsening medical conditions. The maggots were found after a respiratory therapist at the facility found 6 to 12 maggots beneath the patient’s wound dressing. Staff working at the facility claimed that the maggots probably resulted from the patient’s alleged “poor hygiene,” needless to say, this claim was not received well considering the facility’s lengthy record of inadequate patient care. The spokesperson, David Liebowitz further claimed that a “small number” of maggots were found in the man’s wound on wednesday and then a few more were found on thursday. In other words, the presence of maggots in the patient’s wound went ignored by the staff. However, Liebowits also claimed that maggots have not been found on any other patients in the facility.

Despite the purported cause of the maggot infestation as resulting from the victim’s poor hygiene, the department of health quickly learned that several pest control professionals have been in and out of the facility for weeks in an effort to control a fly infestation. Flies had become a problem in the facility due to the installation of blower fans which allowed the flies easy access into the facility. Ironically, the fans that were being installed are meant to prevent flies and other airborne insects from entering the facility. Liebowitz later stated that the maggot presence in the man’s wound was caused by the fly infestation.

Have you ever heard of flies placing their eggs within human body cavities or wounds?

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Where In Arizona Are Recluse Spider Species Distributed? Has The Notorious Brown Recluse Species Been Documented In The State?

Where In Arizona Are Recluse Spider Species Distributed? Has The Notorious Brown Recluse Species Been Documented In The State?

While the vast majority of documented spider species within the United States do not inflict medically significant bites to humans, the brown recluse is not one of them. The notorious brown recluse spider has not always been categorized as a spider of medical significance, but after years of ignoring well documented cases detailing extremely dangerous, and in some rare cases, fatal physical reactions that had resulted from this spider’s bite, the medical community came together and announced that the brown recluse is, in fact, a threat to human health. However, misinformation concerning the brown recluse and other recluse spider species is still widespread in the US today. For example, entomologists working at state extension offices often receive calls from people who believe that they had sustained a brown recluse bite despite the fact that many of these worried citizens live well outside of the spider’s range. It is not uncommon for some media sources to claim that brown recluse spiders exist with Arizona, but this is not the case. While Arizona is home to multiple recluse species that, in rare cases, have been known to inflict medically significant bites to humans, the brown recluse species does not inhabit the state.

The United States is home to at least 11 recluse spider species, and the brown recluse, L. reclusa, is the most widespread as well as the most dangerous. The brown recluse species is distributed in the midwest and the mid-south with the US. States where the brown recluse can be found include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and several other neighboring states. Arizona is home to five recluse spider species, two of which, the Arizona brown spider and desert recluse, may inflict medically significant bites to humans, but such incidents are exceptionally rare, and not fully substantiated. Recluse spiders in Arizona dwell in the far southern and far western portions of the state.

Have you ever encountered a recluse spiders species within your home or garage?

 

 

 

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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?