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Pharaoh Ants Establish Nests Within Homes, And They Spread Disease-Causing Microorganisms Wherever They Go

Pharaoh Ants Establish Nests Within Homes, And They Spread Disease-Causing Microorganisms Wherever They Go

More than 700 ant species have been documented in the United States, but only a small minority are considered pests within homes and yards. Much like other eusocial insect groups, many ant species have established permanent habitats outside of their native range. Some ant species have even managed to thrive in a variety of environmental conditions on nearly every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, of course. The relatively small group of ant species that have spread to virtually every urban region of the world are known as “tramp ants.” This name comes from their habit of hitchhiking to new areas all over the world via cargo shipments, much like a tramp or vagrant.

Tramp ant species tend to be nuisance pests around homes due to their ability to tolerate a wide variety of environmental conditions. Tramp ants are also well adapted to surviving long periods within human habitats, as all tramp ants have endured long journeys across the world on cargo ships and other human forms of transportation. Naturally, several tramp ant species can be found throughout the US, and some of the most commonly encountered tramp ants in Arizona include Argentine ants, crazy ants, odorous house ants, and Pharaoh ants. Monomorium pharaonis, or “Pharaoh ants” as they are commonly known, are notorious for establishing stubborn indoor infestations where the ants pose a health threat due to the disease-causing microorganisms that the ants carry.

Pharaoh ants are one of the smallest sized ant pest species, as they usually do not grow any larger than 1/16 of an inch in length, but the tiny ants can still be recognized within homes for their strikingly yellow exterior. Pharaoh ants prefer to nest within obscure indoor locations that are difficult to access, such as within wall voids, beneath baseboards or within attic spaces. Since Pharaoh ant colonies can contain more than 30,000 individual ants, infestations can be hard to eradicate. Workers often forage around homes where they will consume just about any human food source that they encounter, such as meats, sweets, and fats. These ants also require copious amounts of water, and they can harvest water from any source, including from the wounds of debilitated and/or immobile people.

Pharaoh ants also nest outdoors, often beneath leaf-litter and stones, and while these ants do not damage lawns, their population can reach nuisance levels in residential yards where they frequently congregate within homes in order to secure easy human food sources. Considering the disease risk that these ants pose to the occupants of an infested home, a pest control professional should be contacted when Pharaoh ants are found indoors.

Have you ever spotted Pharaoh ants within your house?

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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 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?