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The Western Drywood Termite Inflicts 250 Million Dollars In Structural Damage Annually In The Southwest Alone

More than 20 termite species have been documented as inhabiting Arizona, several of which are known pests of structural wood within homes and buildings. Arizona is home to all three groups of termites known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood. Subterranean termites live in large below-ground colonies that are often composed of several secondary nests that surround the original primary nest where the queen and her eggs reside. These networks of interconnected colonies can span areas larger than a football field below the ground in urban and suburban areas.

Dampwood termite pest species inflict very little structural damage to Arizona homes, making them relatively unimportant as economically damaging pests. Drywood termites are not problematic in most areas of the country, but in the southwest they are almost as destructive as subterranean termites. Since drywood termite colonies are contained entirely within single above ground wood items, like logs and fallen branches, they contain far fewer individuals than subterranean termite colonies. While subterranean termites inflict 80 percent of all termite damage reported in the US annually, the western drywood termite alone inflicts more than one quarter of one billion dollars in structural damage in the southwest every year.

Workers that leave subterranean termite colonies to forage are responsible for initiating infestations within homes. Given their below-ground habitat, subterranean termite workers typically damage substructural wood members that are close to the ground. Their intolerance for dry outside air requires them to build air-tight mud tubes out of a hardening mix of soil, excrement, saliva, and bits of wood. These mud tubes are often found on the exterior foundation walls of infested homes, and they serve as the most common indication that a subterranean termite infestation has been established.

Since only winged reproductive drywood termites (alates) leave colonies to swarm, only they can initiate drywood termite infestations. Since alates are airborne, they can initiate infestations virtually anywhere on or within a home without leaving signs of their presence. This makes drywood termite infestations difficult to both detect and prevent, but some interesting detection methods have been developed, such as infrared imaging devices, acoustic and odor emission detectors, and even termite-sniffing dogs. Housing codes require homes to be built with lumber that has been treated to resist decay and termite attacks, but these protective treatments decay over time, and very few methods of preventing drywood termite infestations have been developed.

Are you aware of any reliable methods of preventing drywood termite infestations?

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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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Why Harmless Cellar Spiders Are One Of The Most Commonly Controlled Pests Of Homes

Why Harmless Cellar Spiders Are One Of The Most Commonly Controlled Pests Of Homes

Cellar spiders are among the most commonly encountered spiders within homes throughout the United States, and their excessively long legs has earned them the well known name “daddy long legs.” Cellar spiders and cobweb weavers are responsible for the tattered cobwebs that accumulate in homes, and especially in uninhabited structures like garages, barns and sheds. Several cellar spider species are commonly found in US homes including long-bodied cellar spiders, truncated cellar spiders, elongated cellar spiders, and marbled cellar spiders, the last of which is mainly found in the southwest US. While cellar spiders can become a nuisance when they are found in large numbers within homes, many cellar spider complaints concern the abundance of webs they build within homes.

Unlike many spider species that either remove or recycle their silken webs after use, cellar spiders frequently abandon their webs in order to establish new ones. This habit can result in a large number of indoor webs that remain intact long after the spiders leave a home. Overtime, these sticky indoor webs can become matted down to walls, shelves, furniture and awnings outside of homes, making their removal difficult. It has been claimed that regularly removing cellar spider webs from homes will cause the pests to return outdoors, but in reality, cellar spiders constantly construct new webs whether they are regularly removed or not. The only way to avoid cellar spider webs from accumulating indoors is to remove or exterminate the pests.

The elongated cellar spider is the most commonly encountered cellar spider within US homes, and they can be recognized for their half inch long bodies, long pale legs, and pale body with brown or black markings on their back and abdomen. Elongated cellar spiders tend to build webs beneath eaves and in basements, while the truncated cellar spider tends to build webs in occupied living spaces. Truncated cellar spiders have remarkably long legs, far longer than most other cellar spider species, and their body is covered in black and pale dots.

Have spider webs ever accumulated within 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?


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Canyon Flies And Face Flies Are Now Transmitting Parasitic Worms

Musca autumnalis, better known as the “face fly,” is a very common fly species that is known to be a frequent home-invading pest throughout the United States. Face flies frequently invade homes in large numbers during the fall and winter seasons in order to establish a warm shelter for overwintering. These flies gravitate into wall voids, tight attic spaces and other inaccessible indoor areas, and they get their common name from their habit of landing on people’s faces where they feed on tears and other fluids secreted from the mucous membranes in the nose, eyes and mouth. Unlike cosmopolitan face flies, the group of fly pests commonly known as “canyon flies” can only  be found in the southwestern region of the country. Much like face flies, however, canyon flies feed on mucus, tears, sweat and other bodily fluids.

Since face flies breed on manure, they spread bacteria into the eyes of humans, cattle and horses, which often results in conjunctivitis, or “pink eye.” In addition to causing pink eye, face flies are known to transmit a parasitic disease known as thelaziasis to horses and cattle. Less is known about the breeding habits of the nine documented canyon fly species found in the southwest, but at least one canyon fly species, Fannia thelaziae, has been documented as transmitting thelaziasis to humans on at least ten occasions in the southwest. All ten of these cases involved the nematode eye-worm species known as Thelazia californiensis. These flies transmit several eye worm-parasite species to animals in the country, including Thelazia gulosa.

During 2016, an Oregon woman visited the doctor after experiencing odd sensations in her eye. Doctors discovered several parasitic worms in her eye that were later revealed to be Thelazia gulosa parasites. While common in cattle, this particular eye-worm species had never been found infecting a human, and last year, T. gulosa parasites were found in the eye of a southern California woman. This woman contracted the parasites after jogging through a fly swarm. So far these are the only two documented human cases of T. gulosa infection, and it is not known whether face flies or canyon flies transmitted the parasites in these cases. Because of these two alarming cases, medical researchers are worried that flies may start transmitting eye-worms to humans throughout the country.

Have you ever been pestered by flies landing on your face?

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The Western Bloodsucking Conenose Bug Frequently Infests Homes In Arizona Where They Transmit A Parasitic Disease To Humans While Sucking Blood

The Western Bloodsucking Conenose Bug Frequently Infests Homes In Arizona Where They Transmit A Parasitic Disease To Humans While Sucking Blood

For the past several months, news stories describing a potentially deadly parasitic disease spread by a group of airborne insects known as kissing bugs have frightened residents throughout the southern United States. Kissing bugs have been spreading a parasite to thousands of people in South America and Mexico for decades, and this parasite slowly eats away at internal organs, eventually resulting in death. The parasite is spread by several species of kissing bugs that are also native to Arizona.

One of these species, the western bloodsucking conenose bug, is a frequent home-invading pest in Tucson and a few other metropolitan areas in the state. This species invades homes at night where they suck blood from humans before defecating near the bite wound. In response to the irritation caused by bites, humans inadvertently spread the parasite-contaminated feces into the bloodstream while itching their bite wound, resulting in the transmission of chagas disease.

The adult western bloodsucking conenose bug is dark brown to black in color and roughly 0.5 to 0.9 inches in length. They also have a  lateral abdominal margin that can sometimes be tan in color. Short hairs protrude from their mouthparts, which are longer at the tip. They walk around on short, stout legs, with their wings placed flat against their back when not being used.  Nymphs of this species look similar to the adults except smaller in size and lacking wings.

These pests are adept flyers, swooping towards the artificial lights they are attracted to in human homes, such as porch lights, after dark. They will then slip inside through cracks and holes in window screens as well as gaps in doorways. Once they are inside your home, they will gravitate toward areas with low light, and hide in darker areas such as between mattresses, in/under furniture, and inside closets during the day. They will only come out at night to feed on the sleeping human residence before making their escape to a darker, more protected area to rest off their giant blood meal. You can often find them hiding amidst bedding or drapes near the bed of their host in the morning after engorging themselves during the night.

Have you ever found what looked like a kissing bug hiding not far from your bed in the morning?


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Cockroaches Often Ruin Stored Foods, Books, Fabrics, And They Emit Foul Odors From Their Mouth And Other Bodily Orifices

No one enjoys stumbling across a cockroach in their home, especially when it is the middle of the night and you are sneaking off to the kitchen for a snack when one of those little varmints scurries out of hiding, scaring you half to death in the process. Fright factor aside, there are many reasons why these insect pests are bad to have running around your home. They pose a health risk to humans because of their rather disgusting habits, which also in turn puts your food, any kind of fabric, and books in danger of being ruined by these filthy creatures.

To start, cockroaches leave behind noxious substances everywhere they walk. During their travels throughout your home cockroaches drop bits of their faeces and throw up portions of their partially digested food at regular intervals. In addition to this, they discharge disgusting secretions from certain glands around their body and mouth. This discharge is particularly foul smelling, leaving this long-lasting “cockroach perfume” to smell up any food and areas they visit around your home.

As if that first bit wasn’t bad enough, cockroaches move fluidly from unsanitary places like sewers, drains, and latrines into human homes, carrying everything they pick from those locations with them into your home. They can spread the germs that cause diseases, playing a supplementary role in the spread of disease when they contaminate food they find and eat small portions of in your home with the germs they pick up from the unsanitary locations mentioned above. So, in short, the disgusting germs they carry around after wandering through sewers and latrines then get spread on the food they find in your kitchen, ruining that food for human consumption. They can also carry the eggs of parasitic worms and can cause allergic reactions in humans living in the homes they infest. Above all else, you want to make sure and double check your stored food for possible contamination from cockroaches, as this is the primary way they can spread disease to humans.

Have you ever noticed ruined food in your pantry or cabinets that was likely contaminated by cockroaches, or smelled a noxious odor around your home that may have come from the secretions and discharge left behind by cockroaches?


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The Black Polycaon Beetle

The Black Polycaon Beetle Commonly Infests Hardwood Flooring And Furniture Made Of Any Softwood Species, Sometimes For Several Years

Several beetle species see adult females lay eggs on the surface of wood in order to allow emerging larvae to bore into wood for nesting and feeding purposes. Larvae of most wood-boring beetle species excavate interior tunnels through natural wood sources only, like trees, logs, stumps and fallen branches. Unfortunately, a significant number of beetle species also bore into finished wood sources, like structural wood, furniture, and other forms of  woodwork. Naturally, beetle species that bore into finished wood sources are considered economically significant insect pests due to the costly damage they inflict to valued woodwork.

Much like termites, larvae of wood-boring beetle species excavate nesting tunnels within wood where they feed on cellulose for nutritional purposes during their maturation into adulthood. The most common wood-boring beetle pests that infest woodwork on US properties include powderpost beetles, old house borers and deathwatch beetles. The Bostrichidae family of wood-boring beetles include 700 documented species, some of which are pests of woodwork that are commonly known as “false powderpost beetles.”

The most destructive powderpost beetle species include the “leadcable borer,” the “bamboo borer,” and the “black polycaon.” Black polycaon beetles are extremely abundant in Arizona where pest control professionals frequently recover larvae from infested plywood and furniture, particularly veneer furniture. While larvae of this species can infest any softwood species, they have also been found infesting hardwood flooring and oak furniture within homes and buildings in Arizona. Black polycaon beetle larvae generally infest woodwork for around one year before reaching maturity, at which point they emerge from wood through small exit holes that are around 7 mm in diameter. These exit holes are visible on the surface of damaged woodwork, and in rare cases, larvae have infested finished wood items for as long as 20 years before reaching adulthood. The black and cylindrical adults are between 11 and 22 mm in length, and they often enter homes due to their attraction to artificial light sources.

Have you ever encountered flying beetles around your indoor or outdoor lights?

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How Do Annual Sting Incidents In Arizona Compare Between Different Venomous Arthropod Species?

How Do Annual Sting Incidents In Arizona Compare Between Different Venomous Arthropod Species?

Yellow jackets and honey bees are responsible for a majority of the medically harmful sting incidents that occur annually in the US. While multiple yellow jacket species in Arizona are known for having been responsible for human deaths, fatalities resulting from honey bee envenomations are particularly common in the state. This is because Arizona sees the greatest abundance of Africanized honey bees or “killer bees,” as they are frequently called. Africanized honey bees are far more aggressive than their common European counterparts, and research shows that virtually all wild honey bees in Arizona are now “Africanized” due to interbreeding. Although bees and wasps are responsible for the highest number of annual sting incidents that trigger dangerous allergic reactions, medically harmful ant stings are by no means uncommon in the US. The red-imported fire ant is the most medically significant ant species found in the US, and luckily, these ants were eradicated from Arizona several years ago. Despite the red-imported fire ant’s absence in Arizona, the state sees a relatively high annual number of ant sting incidents that trigger severe and sometimes deadly allergic reactions.

Multiple species of both native fire ants and harvester ants are responsible for nearly all medically significant ant sting incidents that occur in Arizona, and pest management professionals often collect these dangerous ants from residential properties in the state. From March 2002 to March 2004, 237 ant stings were reported to poison control centers and medical professionals in Arizona, and this number does not count sting incidents that occured in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous region. Therefore, the above-stated number of sting incidents is probably less than half the total number of sting incidens statewide during the same period. For comparison, the total number of scorpion sting incidents reported in Arizona (discluding Maricopa County) during the above stated time period was 4,655, while 623 bee and wasp sting incidents were reported.

Have you ever had to visit the ER after sustaining one or more stings from a venomous arthropod?