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How to Silence Constantly Chirping Crickets

While many people find the sound the chirping crickets pleasant enough, it can begin to grate on a person when they are trying to catch some z’s while a cricket is playing its melody in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, crickets are also just about impossible to track down, as they are incredibly sensitive to movement, and thus immediately cease playing their music when you move to find them in the dark. And while their chirping may seem to drive you insane at night, it is their tendency to eat anything they come across, including clothing, paper, fungi, other dead bugs, leafy vegetables, and even other crickets, in your home that can really turn them into a pest. In addition to this, they attract other visitors to your home that are a more serious problem such as their natural predators, scorpions and spiders.

Ideally, you want to prevent crickets from ever entering your home in the first place. You can do this by removing possible nesting spots around the outside of your home such as piles of wood, leaf litter, and rock piles. Make sure your landscaping stops a good six inches from your houses exterior walls, cutting back bushes and any other ground cover. Outdoor clutter also works as great nesting places, so get rid of any clutter left in your yard such as cardboard boxes, tarps, and pool toys. Damp moist areas will draw crickets, as they prefer to hide from the blistering Arizona sun in these areas. Make sure to seal any cracks or small crevices in your walls and around windows and doors, and cover vents with mesh to prevent crickets from slipping inside. If you do find a nest in your walls, it is likely hundreds of crickets will come pouring out after you spray it with pest spray.

If crickets have already entered your home, there are a few ways you can try and rid yourself of them before calling in the pest control professionals. Getting rid of any sources of food and water is one way to handle the situation. Just like humans, they need food and water to survive. Eliminate any possible sources of water around your home and make sure there are no damp corners hiding in any rooms. Since crickets can survive on just about anything, even sawdust and glue, you need to meticulously clean any areas you think chirping is coming from. Take away their food and water, and the crickets will often move on to greener pastures. Crickets also prefer and are most active in warm temperatures, thriving between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can try lowering the temperature in your home or placing a portable air conditioner in any area you think the chirping is coming from and the cold temperature should make them lethargic, hopefully getting them to stop their chirping. If your infestation is too serious to deal with on your own, then call in the pest control professionals to get the job done right.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of crickets?

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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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The Spines Of Buckmoth Caterpillars Cause Extremely Painful Stings Which Can Land People In The Hospital

Venomous caterpillar species can be found all over the United States. Some of the most commonly encountered species include tussock moth-caterpillars, flannel moth-caterpillars, saddleback moth-caterpillars, asp caterpillars and buckmoth caterpillars. Several venomous caterpillar species have been documented as inhabiting the Sonoran Desert region of southern Arizona, but buckmoth caterpillars are the most frequently encountered venomous caterpillar species in the state. These caterpillars possess numerous venomous “spines” that protrude from their body, and simply touching a specimen will cause these spines to become stuck in the skin where it continually releases venom. These spines are called “urticating hairs,” and they should only be removed from the skin with tape, as using fingers to pull out the hairs may squeeze more venom into the bloodstream, which intensifies the pain sensation. Unfortunately, these caterpillars often become abundant in residential yards where people often sustain stings while performing yard work.

Around 23 buckmoth caterpillar species have been documented in the southwest US, and these species are around 2 inches in length, and the exterior color of buckmoth caterpillars vary depending on the species. One of the most commonly encountered buckmoth caterpillar species in Arizona is named Hemileuca juno, and these caterpillars are often found grouped together on a variety of common tree species where they feed on leaves. It is not uncommon for buckmoth caterpillars to land on humans after falling from trees, and when this occurs, envenomation almost always results. Another buckmoth caterpillar species in the state, Hemileuca oliviae, dwells within grass where humans often sustain stings while walking. The venom of buckmoth caterpillars usually causes inflammatory dermatitis, and since the human body recognizes the venom as a foregin substance, allergic reactions sometimes result from stings. Most sting cases do not result in hospitalizations, but several cases of buckmoth caterpillar spines making contact with the eyes has resulted in serious medical consequences.

Do you believe that you have spotted a buckmoth caterpillar before?

 

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What Attracts Spiders Into Homes? And How Residents Can Prevent Spiders From Setting Up Camp In A Home?

Many Arizona residents have learned from experience that warm spring weather tends to bring spiders of all sorts into homes. The reason for this trend is no mystery, as many people are aware that web-spinning spiders prey on flying insects, such as mosquitoes and common houseflies. Several flying insect species become abundant in urban and suburban areas come spring, and spiders naturally gravitate to areas where they can find food. In other words, as the flying insect population increases in residential areas, so do spider populations.

While spiders may be intimidating to look at, their mosquito, gnat and fly prey are far more dangerous to humans. For example, many common urban fly species, such as houseflies, are well known to spread numerous diseases to humans due to their filthy breeding and feeding habits. In addition to flies, urban mosquitoes have recently brought the west Nile virus into Maricopa County where the disease is now a permanent part of southern Arizona’s ecosystem. The last few years have seen urban mosquitoes in southern Arizona skyrocket in numbers, and this year many residents have reported finding mosquitoes within their home. Therefore, it should not be surprising to find an unusually high number of spiders within homes in the region. In fact, spiders perform a free pest control service by feeding on airborne fly pests around homes.

Luckily, very few spider species in southern Arizona are known for inflicting potentially dangerous bites. Only a small number of spider species in the region produce venom that can trigger severe allergic reactions. However, spiders can be a source of anxiety when they are frequently found within homes, and abundant indoor spider webs can become a nuisance. In order to prevent spiders from inhabiting a home, it is often necessary to first have a home inspected for insect pests that may be attracting spiders indoors. Spiders tend to remain in cluttered areas that are typically avoided by humans. Simply dusting curtains, ceiling fans, skylights, doorway entrances and areas behind furniture will help to keep spiders from becoming indoor pests.

Have you found any spiders within your home this summer?

 

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Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

Massive Centipedes Can Invade Your Home Through Indoor Drains

Arizona is home to some of the largest sized centipede species in the world. The giant desert centipede in Arizona grows to be six to eight inches in length, and the common desert centipede grows to be between four and five inches in length. The giant desert centipede can be recognized for its black head and orange tail, while the smaller variety is usually tan to brown in color. While these two centipede species inflict venomous and very painful bites, bites rarely cause serious reactions. Unlike the common house centipede, which is often encountered in homes all over the United States, desert centipedes are not chronic home-invaders in Arizona. That being said, large desert centipedes have emerged from sink and shower drain within houses. While this claim is argued on many websites, two entomologists, Richard Fagerlund and Johnna Lachnit, have stated that centipedes may enter homes through drains after invading septic tanks.

Although desert centipedes do not invade homes in the southwest as often as house centipedes, many residents of the region have found large desert centipedes indoors, particularly in beds. One desert-dwelling resident described a situation in which a large centipede emerged from his kitchen sink while washing dishes. He claimed that the specimen was around six inches, which he was able to determine easily after the centipede bared its entire body on one of his dinner plates. Another resident claimed that a large centipede crawled up her leg after it had emerged from her bathtub drain while showering. The two above named entomologists claim that centipedes can enter septic tanks before invading homes through drains. These two entomologists recommend covering indoor drains with commercially available drain covers, and if these are not on hand, placing a zip-lock bag over drains will suffice. It is also important to run hot water before retiring to bed each night, as nocturnal centipedes may emerge from drains before invading other areas of a home while residents sleep.

Have you ever witnessed an arthropod emerge from an indoor drain?

 

 

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Up To 4,000 Scorpion Stings Are Reported In And Around Phoenix Every Year, And Some Arizona Residents Are More Likely To Sustain A Sting Than Others

Up To 4,000 Scorpion Stings Are Reported In And Around Phoenix Every Year, And Some Arizona Residents Are More Likely To Sustain A Sting Than Others

Thirty scorpion species can be found in Arizona, and more species may have yet to be discovered within the state. This may be a bold statement, as one would think that all scorpions within Arizona have certainly been discovered by now. However, a new species, Vaejovis crumpi, was discovered in Prescott in 2011, and much of Arizona is uninhabited desert, making the existance of additional undocumented species a distinct possibility in the state. It is comforting to know that all potentially dangerous scorpion species in Arizona have likely been found, as a few scorpion species already inflict medically significant stings to thousands of Arizona residents annually. Surprisingly, between 3,000 and 4,000 scorpion stings occur annually within the Phoenix metropolitan area alone. Researchers have noted that scorpion stings are not evenly distributed across metropolitan areas in Arizona, making residents of Phoenix more likely to sustain scorpion stings than others.

The desert hairy scorpion, the devil scorpion and the bark scorpion are the three most commonly encountered scorpion species within Arizona. While the desert hairy scorpion may be the most intimidating species to look at given their 5 to 6 inch body length, this species is not considered medically significant, but the much smaller 3 inch bark scorpion can inflict potentially deadly stings. The risk of falling victim to a scorpion sting is remote within urbanized locations found where concrete sidewalks, buildings and business are abundant, but unsurprisingly, the risk of sustaining a scorpion stings is much greater in suburban regions. This makes most apartment dwellers relatively safe from scorpion stings, but the residents living within single family homes located near open and undeveloped landscapes are at the greatest risk of sustaining a scorpion sting in Arizona. Unlike apartments and townhouses, single family homes are isolated structures. Homes in these regions are also far more likely than others to become infested with scorpions. Residents living in these areas should be mindful of scorpions on their lawn during the night hours, as all scorpions are nocturnal.

Have you ever found scorpions near your home?

 

 

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Mayflies And Caddisflies Can Trigger Severe Allergic Reactions In Humans

The insects known as caddisflies and mayflies are abundant in Arizona. These two insects dwell and breed near natural water bodies, and it is not uncommon for mayflies and caddisflies to swarm large populated areas located near lakes and rivers. For example, back in 2015, massive swarms of caddisflies terrorized residents of Bullhead City. This Arizona city is located near the Colorado River, so residents were used to occasional caddisfly swarms. However, the summer of 2015 saw repeat swarms that were so unpleasant that real estate prices in the city dropped drastically, as nobody wanted to retire to the city knowing about the swarms. Mayfly swarms can also be a nuisance for Arizona residents, as one resident of Oak Creek reported a mayfly swarm as large as 30 by 30 meters. At the moment, residents located near Lake Erie in Ohio are being bombarded with repeat mayfly swarms that are literally covering houses. These swarms are large enough to be picked up on weather radar. While it is well known that both caddisflies and mayflies can be a nuisance, their negative effect on human health is not so well known. Much like cockroaches and dust mites, mayflies and caddisflies are two arthropods that can induce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. In some cases, these insects can induce asthma attacks, hives, skin irritation and eczema.

Given the caddisflies appearance, it should not be surprising to learn that they are closely related to moths and butterflies. Much like moths and butterflies, caddisfly wings are covered in easily detachable scales that serve as airborne allergens. These scales are a source of both indoor and outdoor allergens, and inhaling these scales can induce asthma attacks. Mayflies, on the other hand, do not spread airborne allergens; instead, the discarded skins shed by mayflies serve as environmental allergens. Although their discarded skins are not as readily airborne as the dust-like scales on caddisfly wings, these discarded skins can be blown about in the wind, making it easy for people to inhale this allergen. Mayfly allergens have been shown to induce seasonal asthma symptoms and eczema. Once case report describes in individual who developed “huge” hives as a result of making contact with mayfly allergens. Keeping these insects out of homes is particularly important to prevent the development of allergies or the worsening of existing allergies.

Have you ever witnessed a caddisfly or mayfly swarm?

 

 

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How Doctors Treat The 5,000 Scorpion Stings That Are Reported In Arizona Each Year

How Doctors Treat The 5,000 Scorpion Stings That Are Reported In Arizona Each Year

Bark scorpions are abundant in Mexico and Arizona, and limited populations exist in neighboring states. In Arizona, the bark scorpion is most abundant in the southern half of the state, as this species is not capable of surviving the higher altitude areas of northern Arizona. The only northern bark scorpion habitat in the state exists at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and this species is abundant in and around Las Vegas, southern New Mexico and southwest Texas as well. The bark scorpion is the only scorpion species in the United States that can inflict medically significant stings. The venom produced by this species can be fatal in rare cases, but only four deaths have occurred over the past 11 years as a result of bark scorpion stings in the US. This is not the case in Mexico where bark scorpions kill 1,000 people every year. The reason for this disparity is largely due to the lack of available health care in highly-populated rural areas of Mexico. However, considering that 5,000 bark scorpion envenomation cases are reported in Arizona each year, one would expect a higher fatality rate in the state. Luckily, all hospitals and health care facilities in Arizona are well stocked with bark scorpion antivenom, so when potentially fatal stings do occur, an antidote is not far away.

When bark scorpion sting victims report to an emergency room, doctors first apply ice to the sting wound while also administering acetaminophen or narcotic painkillers to reduce the pain. Serious allergic reactions to bark scorpion stings, such as anaphylactic shock, are rare, but if a doctor finds that a sting victim has a history of allergic reactions to arthropod venom, then measures are taken to prevent the victim from experiencing anaphylactic shock, which is the cause of most bark scorpion fatalities. The University of Arizona keeps an abundance of antivenom vials available for residents who sustain bark scorpion stings. In order to prevent severe systemic symptoms, antivenom should be administered within one hour following a bark scorpion sting. Bark scorpion antivenoms are somewhat controversial, as the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved of its use. This prevents bark scorpion antivenom from being transported over state lines, therefore, Arizona is the only US state where bark scorpion antivenom is readily available. In many cases, doctors spend time observing the patient for severe systemic symptoms before administering antivenom.

If you were to sustain a bark scorpion sting, would you want antivenom to be administered as soon as possible?

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The Giant Water Bug Swarm Around Porch Lights Where They Can Inflict Painful And Possibly Toxic Bites On Humans

The Giant Water Bug Swarms Around Porch Lights Where They Can Inflict Painful And Possibly Toxic Bites On Humans

Giant water bugs are airborne aquatic insects that regularly fly to new water sources that are often located near residential and urban habitats. These insects dwell within small and shallow bodies of water such as creeks and ponds, and they are also known for swarming around porch lights, which is often a terrifying nuisance to homeowners given the massive size of these aptly named insects. Many giant water bug species grow to be more than three inches as adults, and multiple species exist within Arizona, but the precise number and identity of species dwelling in the state is a matter of debate among experts. In addition to being large, annoying and frightening to look at, water bugs also inflict extremely painful bites. In fact, several species have been found to possess saliva that causes severe medical symptoms in human bite victims, and at least one of these potentially dangerous water bug species inhabits Arizona.

The L. americanus species of water bug is the most documented and likely the most abundant of all water bug species within the United States. This species is commonly known by multiple nicknames including the “electric light bug”, and as already mentioned, the “giant water bug”. The giant water bug can reach lengths of nearly 2.5 inches, which makes them hard to ignore when they gravitate toward outside light sources in urban and residential areas. Another water bug species that is found within the southern US is the L. uhleri species. Two other water bug species, L. medians and L. griseus, can also be found in Arizona. All North American water bug species swarm toward porch and street lights, but the L. uhleri and L. griseus species are the most commonly spotted species around artificial light sources in residential and urban areas. Recently, seven cases of human water bug bites have been documented in hospitals. The bite victims developed body numbness and intolerable pain following a water bug bite, and research shows that the saliva that these insects produce is toxic enough to cause paralysis in humans. However, very little has been published about water bugs in medical literature, and no case reports detailing human paralysis in response to water bug bites have been published. Studies concerning the toxic effect of water bug saliva on humans are currently being carried out at Arizona State University.

Have you ever encountered an enormous insect hovering around your porch light?

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The Home-Infesting Brown Dog Tick Is Only Able To Transmit Disease To Humans Within A Region Of Arizona

The Home-Infesting Brown Dog Tick Is Only Able To Transmit Disease To Humans Within A Region Of Arizona

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks are the only disease-spreading arthropods in the US that public health officials are unable to control. As most Americans know, ticks are most abundant in the northeast, making tick-borne disease cases particularly frequent in the region. Because of this, most Americans consider residents of the northeast to be at the greatest risk of falling victim to tick-borne diseases. However, very few people are aware of the tick-borne disease threat facing Arizona residents, including Arizona residents themselves.

It may shock Arizonans to learn that they are living within the only state where the brown dog tick species is capable of transmitting disease to humans. In addition to this little-known factoid, the brown dog tick is also the only tick species in the world that is able to reproduce and survive all life-cycles indoors. In other words, Arizona is the only state where brown dog ticks can both spread disease and infest homes. Arizonans should also note that the disease spread by brown dog ticks in Arizona, Rocky Mountain-spotted fever (RMSF), is being transmitted to more and more residents of the state with each passing year. In fact, experts say that RMSF has reached epidemic proportions within the state.

North America is home to two tick species that are commonly referred to as “dog ticks”. The most abundant and medically threatening of these two species, the American dog tick, is well established in the eastern US, but this species exists in many western states as well. This species transmits the potentially fatal disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted-fever to humans in every region where they can be found. The other species, the brown dog tick, is abundant all over the US, but these ticks only spread diseases to dogs and other animals. However, brown dog ticks dwelling in parts of southern Arizona and northern Mexico can, in fact, transmit RMSF to humans in this region, and only in this region. As it happens, the brown dog tick is also the only tick species that can infest homes in large number. So far, brown dog ticks have transmitted RMSF to well over 300 people in Arizona, 21 of which died as a result.

Have you ever spotted a tick embedded within your skin? If so, were you able to identify the species?