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Which Insect And Arachnid Pests Are Known To Inflict Medically Serious And Fatal Injuries Within Homes And Buildings In Arizona?

Insects and arachnids are endowed with a wide variety of defensive capabilities that are essential to their survival. Examples include blister beetles and millipedes that secrete caustic defensive fluids, ants that spray formic acid from the tip of their abdomen, and termite workers that kill ant invaders by literally exploding themselves to protect the greater colony. Of course, the most well known insect and arachnid defense mechanisms are those that negatively affect humans, such as the stingers of Hymenoptera insects like bees, wasps and some ant species, the piercing mouthpart, or “proboscis,” of bloodsucking insects like mosquitoes and kissing bugs, and the fangs, or “chelicerae,” that spiders use to inject venom into the bloodstream.

While insect and arachnid venom is more than sufficient to kill small arthropods, the dose of venom that insects and arachnids deliver into the human bloodstream is not sufficiently toxic to be lethal in most cases. In fact, studies have shown that an average adult can sustain hundreds of bee and wasp stings without succumbing to the toxic effects of venom. In Arizona, a few recluse spider species, the western black widow spider, and possibly the yellow sac spider are among the few arthropods that can inflict bites that deliver a dose of venom that is substantial enough to result in hospitalizations or death. However, these spiders rarely deliver lethal doses of venom when they bite humans, and western black widows bites are often venom-free, or “dry bites.”

The vast majority of envenomation fatalities are caused by serious allergic reactions to venom, and not from the toxic effects of venom. In the US, wasps, bees, and ants are responsible for the majority of medically serious and fatal attacks reported to poison control centers, and most of these attacks occur in residential yards. It should be known that humans frequently experience severe allergic reactions to bites inflicted by non-venomous insects within homes. These non-venomous, but potentially dangerous indoor insect pests include bed bugs, kissing bugs, and even mosquitoes, but very few individuals are allergic to the proteins in their saliva. In rare cases, the above mentioned insect pests inflict bites that induce a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock, which is the official cause of death in most fatal bites and stings inflicted by arthropods within and outside of homes.

Have you ever sustained an arthropod bite or sting within your home?

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