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Several Common Arthropod Pests That Infest Homes Can Also Spread Disease To Humans, But One Pest Is Capable Of Spreading Disease Only Within Southern Arizona Homes

Several Common Arthropod Pests That Infest Homes Can Also Spread Disease To Humans, But One Pest Is Capable Of Spreading Disease Only Within Southern Arizona Homes

Disease-spreading arthropod pests can be found throughout the US, the most common of which include mosquitoes, fleas, flies and cockroaches. Unlike mosquitoes and fleas, flies and cockroaches are “mechanical disease vectors,” which means that disease-causing pathogens do not live in concert with their physiology; instead, flies and cockroaches acquire pathogens from filthy conditions, such as sewers, porta potties, manure, and in the case of blow flies, rotting animal carcasses. The many pathogenic organisms that collect on the exterior body of flies and cockroaches are easily smeared on indoor surfaces, human food sources, and on humans themselves. This is why people should think twice before consuming food that has been exposed to even one fly or cockroach.

Mosquitoes and fleas acquire pathogens from the blood-meals they collect from infected birds and other animals. These pathogens rely on the biology of mosquitoes and fleas in order to survive and develop into infectious microorganisms. Infected mosquitoes and fleas transmit pathogens into the human bloodstream with their bites, causing disease. This makes fleas and mosquitoes “biological disease vectors.” Ticks are the most significant arthropod vectors in the US, as they transmit diseases to humans more frequently than any other arthropod vector in the country. For example, during 2013, the most common tick-borne disease, lyme disease, infected more than 36,000 people in the US, while the most common mosquito-borne disease, the west Nile virus, infected only 2,469 people in the country. Although lyme disease is not a threat in Arizona, the state currently sees the greatest number of people infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) when compared to all other US states.

The only tick species that establishes infestations in homes is the brown dog tick, but luckily for most Americans, this species generally does not spread disease to humans. However, brown dog ticks spread RMSF in a region of northern Mexico and southern Arizona, and this is the only area in the US were brown dog ticks spread disease to humans. Researchers have collected infected brown dog tick specimens from southern Arizona homes, and this species’ ability to spread disease within homes may explain the high rate of Rocky Mountain spotted fever infections in the state.

Have you ever found ticks in your home?

 

 

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The Small Honey Ant Thrives In Cold Temperatures And They Swarm Within Homes During The Winter Season

The Small Honey Ant Thrives In Cold Temperatures And They Swarm Within Homes During The Winter Season

A great number of ant pests are well known for invading Arizona homes during the spring, summer and fall seasons, but once the winter season arrives, ant pests become a rare sight within homes in the state. However, one ant species, Prenolepis imparis, is unique for being most active during the winter when both workers and swarming alates are frequently found within and around Arizona homes. This ant species is more commonly known as the honey pot ant, and most infestations see workers invade homes in large numbers from outside nests, but they are also known for frequently establishing indoor nests. Honey pot ant workers invade homes to seek out human food sources, and while these ants have a preference for sugar-rich foods, they frequently consume pantry items containing vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats.

Honey pot ant workers forage within homes during the winter months, and the common emergence of swarming alates in homes during January through March indicates that these ant pests also establish nests within hidden indoor areas during the winter. Unlike many other ant pest species commonly found in Arizona homes, such as southern fire ants and harvester ants, honey pot ants do not sting and they rarely inflict bites to humans. Surprisingly, honey pot ants become most active outdoors when temperatures range from 35 to 55 degrees, and they have been spotted emerging from subterranean nests during bouts of winter cold that see temperatures drop to the single digits. While these ants are common household pests during the winter, honey pot ant mating swarms are most frequent during the spring, but new colonies can also be formed by ground-dwelling reproductive specimens. These ants are relatively small, and workers may be pale, brown or jet black, but their head is generally lighter in color than their abdomen.

Have you ever encountered ants in your home during the winter?

 

 

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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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Avoiding Issues With Indoor Insect Pests Means Becoming A Good Housekeeper And Handyman

Avoiding Issues With Indoor Insect Pests Means Becoming A Good Housekeeper And Handyman

Modern pest management focuses more on the prevention of insect pest infestations rather than eradicating existing infestations. When homeowners keep their indoor living space sanitary and free from structural defects, insect infestations are highly unlikely to occur. Generally, insect pests prefer to remain within their natural outdoor habitat, but they will invade homes when indoor conditions are more hospitable than their natural habitat. Homes contain all the resources that most insect pest species need to survive, such as food, water, shelter, and agreeable temperatures. This is why homeowners and apartment tenants should learn to be conscientious housekeepers, and if possible, knowledgeable of common home repair techniques.

It should be no surprise to anyone that unsanitary homes are particularly vulnerable to insect pest infestations. Homes that contain piles of dirty dishes, overflowing garbage bins, empty soda cans, food crumbs, pets’ bodily waste, piles of dirty laundry, clogged drains, and improperly stored foods attract a variety of insect pest species. The most common insect pests that thrive within unsanitary homes include several cockroach species, filth flies, ants, gnats, midges, mosquitoes and wasps. Also, failure to keep stored food items and pet food properly sealed will invite a variety of pests of stored food products, including Indian meal moths, black carpet beetles and a variety of larval moth species.

Another essential form of pest infestation prevention involves the removal of clutter that provides insect pests with abundant forms of shelter where they can easily remain hidden from a home’s occupants. Insect pests like bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, pantry pets, clothes moths, and although they are technically arachnids, spiders and scorpions, particularly black widows and Arizona bark scorpions, rely on indoor clutter for successfully maintaining a presence within homes. Also, many insect pests, like termites, silverfish, ants and cockroaches, prefer to dwell in dark and moist conditions where they can remain obscured from human view. This makes homes with plumbing leaks, defective gutters, and rainwater leaks particularly attractive to insect pests.

Could you do more to make your home less inviting to insect pests?

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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?