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The Non-Biting Midges That Invade Homes In Large Numbers During Bouts Of Humid Weather

Non-biting midges belonging to the Chironomidae family in the Diptera order of flies are similar to mosquitoes in that they rely on pools of water in order to successfully spawn offspring. Although this group of insect pests cannot inflict bites, they can become a major nuisance within homes, especially during the monsoon season. In Arizona, rainfall quickly pools on residential and commercial streets, which naturally causes non-biting midge populations to increase substantially. These insect pests are well known for traveling long distances in order to enter homes. For example, when water sources becomes abundant, thousands of non-biting midges frequently congregate on the exterior walls of houses, on the underside of eaves, in doorways and in open living spaces located a quarter of a mile away from their breeding sites. These pests are so irritating that real estate values have decreased substantially in residential areas where non-biting midge outbreaks have repeatedly occurred.

Non-biting midges can access homes by squeezing through the narrowest of cracks located on the exterior walls of homes, and invasions are common during the nighttime hours due to their attraction to artificial lights. When large numbers of non-biting midges establish an indoor presence they can contaminate food, fly into people’s eyes, ears and mouth, and in some cases, it is difficult to avoid inhaling the airborne pests. In residential areas where outbreaks are frequent, spiders also become uncomfortably abundant in and around homes, as spiders prey on non-biting midges. Several species of non-biting midge pests are known for entering homes in massive numbers during Arizona’s monsoon season. One common species, Chironomus attenuatus, typically relies on ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for breeding, but at least two consecutive broods can emerge solely from monsoon waters during the mid to late summer seasons in Arizona. There is little that pest control professionals can do to protect homes from being invaded by swarms of non-biting midges, but sealing exterior cracks, crevices and other entry points can go a long way in preventing these pests from entering homes.

Has your home ever been invaded by large numbers of airborne insect pests?

 

 

 

 

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Multiple Recluse Species In Arizona Are Now Known To Inflict Necrotic Bite Wounds, And One Species Is Frequently Found Within And Near Homes In The State

Multiple Recluse Species In Arizona Are Now Known To Inflict Necrotic Bite Wounds, And One Species Is Frequently Found Within And Near Homes In The State

The venomous brown recluse spider is notorious for inflicting painful bites to humans that sometimes cause tissue necrosis at the wound. In other words, brown recluse bites can cause skin to rot and literally fall off, exposing the muscle underneath. Luckily, brown recluse spiders are not found in Arizona, but a few of their close relatives can be found in the state. For example, the desert recluse and the aptly named Arizona recluse are the two most widespread recluse species in Arizona, and recent evidence has revealed that these two species inflict bites that cause tissue necrosis just like their well known cousin. Furthermore, the desert recluse is most often found within and around houses, but they don’t look as intimidating as many would suspect.

While the desert recluse is a native species that is well established throughout Arizona, the Arizona recluse can only be found in the southern half of the state, including Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Bisbee. Desert recluse spiders are often encountered indoors and in yards where they frequently bite due to their preference for nesting beneath wood, leaf litter, rocks, and items lying in the yard that are likely to be picked up. This spider species inflicts wounds that develop necrotic tissue, and in most cases, the dead tissue must be surgically removed, leaving behind a nasty hold where skin used to be. However, bites from the desert recluse do not cause significant systemic symptoms, unlike bites from the brown recluse.

Female desert recluse spiders are around ⅓ of an inch in length, making it slightly smaller than the brown recluse, but the desert recluse possesses longer legs. This makes the spiders look much larger than they are, and they tend to be spotted quickly do to their brown-colored exterior, which makes them stand out in front of white walls.

Do you believe that you have encountered a recluse spider species in your home in the past?

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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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Southern House Mosquito Bites After Dark In Residential Areas Where They Can Transmit Multiple Diseases To Humans

Mosquitoes are becoming more abundant in southern Arizona, and so are human cases of mosquito-borne disease. The most significant mosquito-borne disease in the state, the west Nile virus, was virtually unheard of in the southwest 15 years ago, but now, mosquitoes are transmitting this disease to numerous residents of Maricopa and Pima Counties. Unfortunately, mosquitoes infected with the west Nile virus may be growing in number at higher elevations in more northern areas of the state, as infected mosquitoes were collected from Flagstaff less than two weeks ago. The last human cases of west Nile in Flagstaff were reported back in 2010, but another batch of west Nile-infected mosquitoes were collected in Flagstaff three months ago, indicating that the local population is at an increased risk of contracting the infection this year. Culex quinquefasciatus is one mosquito species that can transmit west Nile to humans, and this species thrives within urban and suburban areas where it breeds in stagnant water sources found in residential yards.

Culex quinquefasciatus is more commonly known as the “southern house mosquito,” and this species can be identified by the five lines that adorn its abdomen. However, identifying this species by physical features is both difficult and unnecessary, as southern Arizona residents know this species as the mosquitoes that frequently inflict bites after the sun goes down. This mosquito can also be identified readily by the particularly loud buzzing sound that it produces. This buzzing sound contributes to the species’ reputation as a nuisance pest in and around households, but this species’ is most notable for its ability to transmit diseases from birds to humans. In addition to the west Nile virus, southern house mosquitoes also transmit St. Louis encephalitis and other encephalitis diseases in humans. These mosquitoes even transmit a parasite that causes heartworm in dogs. Southern house mosquitoes are only able to survive due to the ease with which they locate stagnant water sources in human populated areas. Removing containers that have collected rainwater and reducing the amount of water used to feed lawn grass can go a long way at reducing the southern house mosquito population in neighborhoods and parks in the state.

Do you recall sustaining mosquito bites after dark?

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Fall Pest Proofing Tips!

As the days get shorter and falling temperatures force people to become homebodies, many pests will have the same idea.  Magic pest Control reminds homeowners that rodents, squirrels, cockroaches and spiders may try to find their way inside to escape the coming chill, bringing with them a number of health risks.Exterminators Mesa AZ

One of the best ways to get homes ready for the fall and winter months is to conduct a simple check of the home and perform any necessary maintenance.  Proactive and vigilant fall pest-proofing is crucial in preventing pests from coming indoors

Besides being a nuisance and irksome, these pests can also pose serious risks — rodents spread diseases such as Salmonella, contaminate food and can damage drywall and electrical wires throughout a home. Cockroaches trigger allergies and asthma, especially in children, and some species of spiders may bite if their hiding spot is discovered.

Magic Pest Control recommends these pest-proofing tips for the fall season:

  • Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Eliminate moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
  • Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention where utility pipes enter the structure.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house; keep shrubbery well-trimmed.
  • Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens.
  • Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
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Neuroscientists Have Revealed How Humans Really Feel About Insects

Having a fear of insects is not uncommon. Even those people who claim to be fearless when encountering creepy-crawlies still probably become startled upon unexpectedly seeing one in their home. Since a few insects can inflict painful, or even deadly bites or stings, our instinctive fear of them keeps us safe. It is generally believed that humans developed this sense of fear over the course of evolution in order to recognize and avoid threats to our survival. However, how do we know that we are really experiencing “fear” when encountering creepy-crawlies? After all, the feeling of being scared does not necessarily match the feeling experienced during arthropod encounters.

Obviously, being alone in the dark, watching scary movies, or being stocked by a stranger elicits feelings of fear, but seeing a creepy looking arthropod, like a tarantula or a praying mantis, does not make us feel the same way. Of course, this is not to say that arthropod encounters don’t elicit negative feelings that make people uncomfortable, but perhaps we humans have been misjudging our own feelings toward insects. Many people would argue that the feelings that one experiences upon unexpectedly finding a creepy arthropod are merely subjective feelings that differ from individual to individual. This is a sensible opinion, but most neuroscientists would disagree. A recent study had researchers examining how our brains function upon finding insects. As it turns out, we are not scared of these multi-legged creatures at all, but we are certainly disgusted by them.

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have recently determined that the part of the human brain associated with disgust, and not fear, becomes activated upon finding insects. The feeling of disgust is associated with contamination and disease. This finding surprised the researchers that had been expecting to record a neurological fear response, but the fear centers remained inactive upon exposure to insects. Understandably, the study subjects became particularly disgusted upon seeing the common household insects that are capable of spreading disease pathogens, such as roaches. In fact, household insects elicited more fear in the subjects than insects in the wild. This makes sense, as humans have naturally become conditioned to fear the very pathogen-spreading insects that we encounter most often.

After reading this blog article, do you find it easy to believe that insects elicit feelings of disgust rather than fright? Or do you feel like the study’s finding runs contrary to your own feelings when finding an insect in your home?