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How Many Widow Spiders Exist In Arizona

While black widow spiders are well known for inflicting painful and medically significant bites to humans, the spiders are not well understood by the public. This is true even in Arizona where the highly venomous spiders can be found on occasion within homes. Internet sites happen to be one of the most significant sources of disinformation concerning black widow spiders. For example, a quick Google search will tell you that “22 types” of black widows can be found just within the city limits of Phoenix and Tucson. However, the United States is home to only 3 “black widow” species, while only one single black widow species, not 22, can be found within the state of Arizona. This species is known as Latrodectus hesperus, or the western black widow, as it is more commonly called. It should also be noted that black widows are categorized in the genus Latrodectus, also known as “widow spiders.” In all, only two widow spider species can be found in Arizona. The other species being the recently introduced “brown widow.”

Black widows are often considered their own species because all three species in the US are referred to by the same common name. These three species are commonly known as southern black widows, western black widows, and northern black widows. Both southern and northern black widows can be found in the eastern half of the US. The southern variety is most often found in areas east of Texas and up north to Virginia, while the northern black widow’s habitat is largely limited to the entire eastern seaboard and into parts of the midwest. The western black widow can be found along the west coast, particularly in the desert southwest. In addition to the western black widow species, another widow species that is not native to the US has been found along the southernmost border of the country. This species is commonly referred to as the brown widow, and it is not known to many residents of Arizona because it has only recently been found in the state. The brown widow was most likely introduced accidentally into the region via shipments of plant matter. Finally, the red widow is a species that can only be found in southern Florida. So far, a total of 31 widow species have been found worldwide.

Have you ever spotted a western black widow within your home? Were you  aware that a non-native widow spider species exists within Arizona?

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The Most To Least Common Arthropod Home Invaders

Once the spring begins in Arizona, the arthropod pests come marching into homes. These arthropod pests include potentially dangerous striped bark scorpions, termites, millipedes, ants, earwigs, cockroaches, ground beetles, flies, mosquitoes and even ticks. According to Dr. Kirk Smith with the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department, the Arizona summer weather can become hot enough that even the deserts hardiest arthropods will enter homes in large numbers in search of respite. This is especially true in southern Arizona cities and towns like Yuma, Bisbee, Tucson and Phoenix, as the weather, the lower altitudes and higher arthropod pest populations can reach temperatures exceeding 115 degrees on the worst days. Once the heat exceeds three digit figures, a wealth of arthropods can begin to struggle for survival.

Although scorpions are generally considered to be among the most adaptive arachnids that exist solely because many species dwell within harsh desert environments, all scorpion species have a limit when it comes to the amount of heat that they can take. The scorpion species most commonly found within homes in Arizona also happens to be the most dangerous to humans. This species is known as the bark scorpion, and they have a long rich history of invading homes within residential areas of southern Arizona. While scorpions are commonly thought to be the deadliest arthropods in Arizona, that title actually belongs to Africanized honey bees (AKA killer bees). Unfortunately, just about all honey bees in Arizona are hybrids of killer bees and common European honey bees. While the majority of beehives exist outdoors, it is not uncommon for Africanized killer bees to establish nests within wall-voids or outside on trees located in neighborhoods. If you should find a hive, move indoors immediately, and call a pest control professional to have the hive safely removed. Typically, ticks do not infest indoor areas, but unfortunately, the brown dog tick in an exception, and this species can be found within Arizona homes. It should also be mentioned that southern Arizona is one of the few geographic areas where brown dog ticks can transmit disease to humans, but such cases are rare in the state.

Have you ever stumbled upon a beehive in Arizona?

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A Woman Is Found With A Maggot Living Inside Of Her Forehead

A Woman Is Found With A Maggot Living Inside Of Her Forehead

Visiting exotic locations overseas can be a lot of fun, but danger lurks around every corner. While vacationing, several things can go wrong, such as lost luggage, lost passports, muggings, pickpocketing, illness and, of course, falling victim to parasitic and insect-borne diseases. Tropical regions around the world see the greatest rate of insect-borne disease cases and parasitic infections. It goes without saying that researching the potentially dangerous insects that dwell in a region where a person plans to vacation is a smart course of action. It is not uncommon for Americans and Europeans to fall victim to insect-borne diseases and parasitic infections while visiting a tropical paradise. For example, several days after returning home from a trip to Uganda, a British woman learned that she had a maggot infesting her forehead.

Initially, the British woman did not experience any symptoms that would have indicated that a fly larva had been developing within her forehead, but nine days after returning home, the woman noticed a swollen lump on her forehead. Naturally concerned, the woman did not waste any time reporting to the doctor where she was told that she had sustained an insect bite. The woman was then given a prescription for antibiotics before leaving the hospital. However, only three days later, the woman returned to the hospital with worsened symptoms, as the swelling on her forehead grew significantly and extended to her eyelids. The woman also complained of shooting pains in her face. Upon closer examination, doctors discovered that a tiny pin prick-like hole existed at the center of the swelling. A fluid discharge was noted as oozing out of this opening. In response to this finding, doctors decided to run more tests, as they were concerned that she had contracted a serious disease while traveling in Uganda. As it turns out, the opening had been a small breathing hole for the maggot that had infested her forehead. In order to coax the maggot toward the opening so that it could be removed, doctors plugged the opening, resulting in the maggot’s air supply being cut off. The maggot intruder was removed and identified as Lund’s fly larva, which is a fly species native to African rainforests. Not only is the Lund’s fly not associated with infections of this sort, but the forehead is not typically selected as a nesting spot for developing insect offspring.

Have you ever heard of a maggot being discovered nesting within a person’s body?

 

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Do Insects Expel Liquid Waste?

Do Insects Expel Liquid Waste Like Humans And Other Animals Do?

For those of you who have ever wondered if insects urinate in the same manner as humans and other mammals, you are in luck, as numerous studies exist that have explored this very topic. Of course insects expel waste, but not many insects expel waste in liquid form. However, some insects do, and a few expel massive amounts of liquid waste. In order to address this particular topic accurately, it may be necessary to define urination. If urination is taken to mean the expulsion of liquid waste from the genitals, then it can be said with certainty that this is not the typical manner in which insects expel waste. Most insects expel only one form of waste despite consuming both liquids as well as solid food items.

Insect waste is usually expelled in the form of mucky droppings. The excretory system of insects can be found in their gut, as they do not possess true kidneys as mammals do. However, many insects possess what are called Malpighian tubules. These are tubes that protrude from their guts in order to filter nitrogenous excreta from the blood. Although the collected nitrogenous excreta is a fluid, it is not expelled as a fluid because it winds up in the hindgut where it is reabsorbed for hydration purposes. Nitrogenous excreta is the closest thing to urine that insects possess, but since it is redirected to the hindgut where solid waste exists before ultimately being reabsorbed, insect waste is expelled through one single orifice. Considering this excretory process, it could be said that most insects do not urinate at all; instead, insects only defecate. For example, caterpillars do not urinate, but they do often defecate. Caterpillar feces is commonly spotted by gardeners in the form of tiny black bags around plant stems. Of course, numerous insects do expel liquid waste, but they are in the minority. Aphids expel a droplet of liquid waste called honeydew which provides other insects with a tasty snack. Cicadas are notorious for expelling voluminous amounts of liquid waste, as some unlucky outdoorsmen have been inadvertently showered with the fluid while standing beneath a tree canopy inhabited by the insects.

Have you ever witnessed an insect expelling waste of any form?

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How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

Phasmids are a particular order of insects that are more commonly known as stick insects. Phasmids comprise an abundance of species located in various regions of the world. Scientists have documented around 3,000 different phasmid species, but more are being found regularly. Phasmids are closely related to crickets, praying mantids, cockroaches and katydids. Most people will recognize an immediate association between the well-camouflaged praying mantid and the cryptic phasmid, as phasmids hide from predators by using their stick-like appearance to blend in with foliage, hence their common name, stick insects. Although phasmids and praying mantids are both blessed with the evolutionary gift of camouflage, praying mantids are carnivorous and predatory while phasmids are herbivores and relatively passive. Considering this difference, phasmids are far more reliant on their natural camouflaged appearance for their survival than praying mantids are. However, this does not necessarily mean that phasmids are doomed to being eaten alive when a predator manages to see through their disguise.

Unfortunately for female phasmid species, only the males are able to use their wings in order to make airborne escapes from predators. When a female phasmid becomes aware that it is being eyed by a predator, it will attempt to perform natural-looking movements in order to escape the predator’s visual contact. For example, a female phasmid may move itself behind an object in a manner that makes it look like a leaf being blown in the wind. If this particular method is not an option, or has failed, then a female phasmid can violently flicker its wings as a show of intimidation to deter predators from attacking. In order to compensate for their inability to make airborne escapes, some female phasmid species can intimidate predators by exposing a colorful stripe located beneath one of their wings. In the insect and spider world, bright colors on insect and spider bodies indicates their toxicity to predators. Although female phasmid species are not toxic to predators, some species have, nevertheless, acquired the colorful stripe as a survival adaptation. This colorful stripe only becomes visible during the female’s defensive display.

Have you ever witnessed the violent defeat of an insect by another smaller insect?

 

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Tips to Keep Pests Out of Your House This Fall

  • Screen attic vents, openings to chimneys and any other areas that are open to the outdoors, like mail slots and animal doors.
  • Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas.
  • Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
  • Inspect boxes of decorations, package deliveries and grocery bags for pest damage before bringing them indoors.
  • Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods of time.
  • Contact a licensed pest control professional if an infestation is suspected.
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Out Of Control Urban Fly Populations Terrified Americans During The Early Twentieth Century

Out Of Control Urban Fly Populations Terrified Americans During The Early Twentieth Centurymagicpest-logo

Today, everyone should be familiar with the various ways in which people can protect themselves from dangerous insect pests. Mosquitoes are the modern insect threat to be controlled, and American public health officials are doing their best to share with the public the various measures that can be taken to avoid sustaining bites from disease-carrying mosquitoes. Insect pests have always been a threat to humans, and it is impossible to find a time in history when there was not an insect menace to fear. For example, back in 1900, Americans were terrified of flies. The flies that were feared during this time were not exotic flies that bit people or spread disease; instead, the insect threat came from simple houseflies. It may be hard to believe that Americans used to fear houseflies, as they are encountered on a daily basis during the summer, but the American government used to be convinced that houseflies possessed disease-spreading potential. During the early twentieth century, government-employed public health officials were not shy about sharing the housefly threat with the America public. As you can imagine, the American public responded to these warnings with mass panic.

Today we take garbage-disposal services for granted. Believe it or not, public garbage-disposal has not always been an established part of life in America. Prior to the mainstream use of vehicles, horses were common, and they left massive amounts of manure in the streets, as did many other animals. At the time, public health officials feared that flies would spread disease to humans after making contact with the bacteria-rich manure that littered the streets of Washington DC. Houseflies used to be viewed as filthy, as they were well known to swarm near decaying carcasses as well. One educator at the time falsely claimed that fly-borne disease killed seventy thousand Americans every year. The threat of fly-borne disease prompted activists and public health officials to demand that the government dispose of the tons of manure in urban regions. Public health officials recommended that citizens of manure-saturated urban areas install screens on their doors and windows in order to prevent the entrance of flies. However, the calls for public sanitation reforms were halted by experts who had claimed that houseflies were not spreaders of disease. Luckily, pioneers in the field of medical entomology pressed for better public sanitation programs in order to control the fly supposed menace. Eventually, the overabundance of flies subsided along with the progressive decrease of public manure heaps.

Do you think that you too would have worried about disease-carrying flies if you lived during the first half of the twentieth century?