Roaches are one of the nastiest, dirtiest, and most disgusting creatures to have ever crawled this planet. They crawl through garbage and merrily spread bacteria and disease on your kitchen countertops, and when they’re feeling particularly devious, they take to the air and laugh as you run from the room screaming. They’re rarely good for anything, except maybe as fodder for exotic pets. That and, well, they are excellent recyclers, chewing up almost anything they can get their mouths on. Which really, makes them all the more gross (can you tell how much I dislike them?).
Some species of roaches like to get inside our houses and apartments, and I recently noticed that the dead ones I encounter expire belly side up, like the turtles I’ve seen in cartoons that flip over and can’t get back up. And I got to thinking, why is that? Some of these roaches have wings, like the American cockroach that is a common house invader. Surely they can wiggle their wings and get right back up? They didn’t just lie there and wait to die like the turtles in those cartoons, did they? Probably not.
One explanation is that it’s because they have top-heavy bodies, and only six thin and long legs. When they die and lose muscle control, their legs contract and tuck underneath their bodies, which causes them to roll over. That’s why you find them in this position in the morning.
This always seems to happen with roaches that die from insecticide too – and that’s likely because insecticide affects their nervous system, which eventually leads to them having muscle spasms. When they’re twitching through their last seconds on this earth, their top-heavy bodies usually topple over and they get to die staring at the sky and stars (well, most probably your ceiling, which is a considerably less pleasant view).
In nature, a cockroach’s journey through life often ends in a predators belly so we don’t actually get to witness many dead roaches lying motionless and facedown in the streets (of the jungle, I mean. Or the city – it’s really one and the same, don’t you think? I digress). But if they’re not actually dead and they just accidentally flipped over for whatever reason, there would likely be debris they can use to right themselves up again, like tall blades of grass, a fallen fruit, or the occasional crushed beer can. In our homes, in our flat floors and countertops and even relatively flat carpets, they wouldn’t have anything to use to try to right themselves up to perhaps die in a more dignified manner.
Another thing that may be interesting is that roaches have been witnessed to come out into the middle of the room to die. Unlike a lot of other insects and animals that “hide” when they think their time’s up, roaches tend to seek out open spaces. A possible explanation for this is because when they’ve been hit with insecticide, they get disoriented and “flee” their hiding spaces, like a roach version of the phrase “I need some air”.
Spiders are quite common in Arizona, whether they’re in houses or apartments spinning their webs or traipsing through the desert – there are about 26 different species of spiders that call Arizona their home, and these are some of the most common spiders you’ll see in the state:
Tarantulas are one of the most common spiders you’ll see scuttling about in Arizona. While there are many species of tarantula, the ones you’ll see are usually brown in color and can grow to 5 inches in size. They’re hairy and large, and while they have been known to go into houses, they’re typically found outdoors. While many people find tarantulas frightening, they’re actually quite shy and only bite if they feel threatened. They possess only mild venom, and people who’ve been bitten by tarantulas say the pain is similar to that of a wasp’s sting.
Check out our dedicated entry for tarantulas here.
Often mistaken for the more dangerous Brown Recluse, wolf spiders are typically brown to gray in color. They have distinctive markings on their backs – but not the violin-shaped marking behind the head of a Recluse Spider. They rarely show aggression to humans, and while they’re venomous, their venom is not toxic to us. Same as a number of other spiders like the tarantula, they only bite when threatened.
Wolf spiders don’t spin webs and spend the night hunting for food. They carry their egg sacs with them, and once hatched, the spiderlings will climb onto their mother’s back and stay there for several days.
While they may be found indoors near doors, houseplants, basements and garages, these spiders prefer to be outdoors near sources of water.
Also commonly mistaken for the Brown Recluse is the American house spider, also known as the common house spider. As the name suggests, they’re typically found indoors in homes, garages, and sheds. They have yellow brown bodies and grey brown abdomens with short hair.
These spiders are not known to be dangerous to humans, though they will bite if threatened.
Perhaps the most common spider in the state, Black Widow spiders are also one of the more difficult spiders to detect early since they hide in dark, low-lying places. While it’s difficult to spot them before they bite you, they’re one of the more easily identifiable spiders as they have shiny black bodies and a distinctive red hour-glass shape on their backs.
They’re not aggressive spiders, but they are venomous and their bites may cause extreme pain. If bitten by one, it is important to seek medical attention, especially for the young and elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
Recluse spiders have a violin-shaped marking on their bodies, however with Desert Recluse spiders, these markings may be hard to see. Theyare tan or yellowish-tan in color with light brown abdomens. They’re a bit more aggressive than the other spiders on thelist and their bites are painful and may be necrotic – that is, tissue-destroying. If you suspect that you’ve been bitten by a Recluse spider, seek medical attention.
If you have a spider infestation in, you may want to get in touch with a professional pest control company. Not only does Watchdog Pest Control get rid of spiders on your property, but we make sure they don’t come back!
The order of Coleoptera is the most diverse group of insects – not only that, but there are actually more species of beetles than any other kind of animal in the world. That’s 25% of all known types of animal life-forms, and about 40% of all insect species.Pretty impressive, right?
In the state of Arizona, you can find around 90 different kinds of beetles, but we’ll just be talking about some of the more common ones you can find in your backyard – what they are, what they look like, and where you’ll find them.
Palo Verde Borer Beetles
These beetles are active during the summer, and are commonly seen flying around during sunset looking for a mate (you know, because it’s just more romantic during sunsets). They’re called Palo Verde Borers because as larvae, they develop underground near the roots of Palo Verde trees. They consume these roots and spend about 3-4 years as grubs, before maturing to adult beetles that only live about a month (after they mate and lay eggs, that’s pretty much it for them). They are dark brown, have long and straight antennae, large mandibles, spines on their thorax, and are commonly mistaken for large cockroaches.
Ladybird beetles, also known as ladybugs, are perhaps the most popular beetles in the world thanks to cartoons and children’s toys. They have hemispherical bodies, and while they come in a number of different colors, the most common color combination of these bugs in the US are red or orange with black spots. They are commonly found in gardens from spring to fall, and feed on aphids and similar insects. As larvae, they are purple with orange spots.
Cactus Longhorn Beetles
As the name would suggest, these beetles feed on cholla and prickly pear cacti. As larvae, they develop inside the cacti, and as adults, feed externally on soft cacti. They don’t fly, and are easily recognizable by their hard black bodies that have a white stripe behind the head. They also have long antennae that have a white spot at midpoint, which makes for a very interesting look. They’re usually active during daylight in spring and summer.
These beetles are so named because they eat fruit and sap. They like sweet food, which for them also includes leaves and flowers. Adult fig beetles have a dull green color and have shiny green undersides, with a tan stripe along the edges of their wings. As larvae, they feed on decaying plant matter, and interestingly enough, move by crawling on their backs. These beetles are active from late spring through summer, and are commonly found around trees.
The Arizona Brown spider is the most famous of the recluse spider group, and it is commonly mistaken for the Desert Recluse because of how similar they look. These spiders are commonly referred to as violin spiders or fiddleback spiders because of a telltale violin-shaped mark on their bodies.
They also have 6 eyes instead 8 that are typical in spiders. These eyes are arranged in groups of 3, known as dyads. They have long, thin legs covered in fine hair which also covers their abdomen. They are uniformly colored light tan to dark brown. There are no spines on their legs. Their body length is about 1/3 inch and their leg span is 1 to 1.5 inches, and Brown Recluse males are slightly smaller than females.
Same with the other Recluse spiders, these spiders prefer areas that are not regularly disturbed by humans. They like to hide away under rocks, desert debris, and wood piles. They can also be found on piles of leaves, or if they’re indoors, in dark closets, basements, or attics. Bites from these spiders typically occur when they’re unknowingly trapped against us, such as putting on shoes or slippers left outside or someone reaching into an unseen area to try and grasp something.
People react differently to their bites – some people only experience a reddish bump that they can treat on their own, and others need to seek medical attention because the bite has caused tissue damage, which is worse when the bite occurs in particularly fatty areas of the body. Very young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to the effects of this spider’s bite. Other symptoms may include chills, fever, nausea, joint pain, weakness, and in more extreme cases, seizures or a coma.
These nocturnal creatures typically feed on ants, especially carpenter ants that are active at night. They may also eat larger insects if those insects are already dead.
If you live in an area that’s known to have Arizona Brown spiders, than be wary of picking up items that have been left unattended on the ground. Piles of laundry or clothing or toys may be a temporary refuge, so make sure to carefully shake each item before you put them away.
If you’re putting on shoes, especially ones you don’t regularly use, make sure to carefully inspect them – spiders and other small insects could have claimed that as their resting places, and many bite victims have stated that it was because of carelessly putting on shoes or clothing items that they’ve been bitten.
Things you can do to keep them out:
- Properly dispose of trash and other rubbish – woodpiles, storage boxes, tires etc. are safe havens for spiders
- Keep the perimeter of your house free from shrubs which insects can use as bridges to get to your house
- Make sure to keep your grass trimmed
- Always check clothing or other items that have been outside before using them or bringing them indoors – spiders (and other insects) may have temporarily taken refuge in them
- Seal gaps or cracks on your walls
- Invest in screens or mesh for windows and vents
- Consider weather stripping for doors and windows
- Remove webs and egg sacs as soon as you find them
Pesticides only work when directly sprayed on the spider, so if you’re doing your own pest control, make sure you wear protective gear.
Yes, and they’re common enough that a few health advisories have been released about them in the last several years. In fact, in 2017, two counties in northern Arizona were found to have fleas carrying the bacterium that causes the plague.
That’s right, the plague, also known as the Black Death which wiped out an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia in the 1300s. Granted, we’re several hundred years in the future and we can thank modern medicine for the number of available treatments. Without treatment, death occurs in 30% to 90% in those infected, and they typically have only 10 days left to live. With treatment though, the risk of death is much lower at around 10%.
Still, as with anything, prevention is better than cure, right? So what do these fleas look like?
Well, they’re very tiny, at only about 1/8 an inch. They’re reddish brown in color with flattened bodies. They’re wingless but can jump to incredible heights at up to 7 inches vertically, and 13 incheshorizontally – which is really impressive considering how small they are. Like the Hulk, but flea-sized.
These tiny insects survive on blood, and are commonly found pet animals like dogs and cats (female fleas consume about 15 times their body weight each day, those gluttons). They’re external parasites that try to live off of one host for their entire lifespan of around 100 days.
If you find your pet scratching one too many times, that may be a good sign that they have fleas. Try running a fine-toothed comb through their fur. You’ll want to look for small brown shapes moving around. These fleas like to congregate near ears and tails of cats and dogs. You may also spot their fecal matter, which look like tiny black specks on the skin and fur.
Killing off adult fleas is relatively easy – there are a number of products out in the market that will take care of that for you. There are collars, lotions, creams, natural sprays, natural or chemical baths. You can also go to the vet and have them get rid of the fleas in the safest possible way.
What’s actually trickier is to make sure the infestation doesn’t reoccur. The eggs that fleas lay may easily fall off of the host’s body, that means that places where your dogs or cats sleep, may be breeding grounds for flea eggs. Same goes for a number of other places where your pets like to roll around in.
You may need to thoroughly clean your home and apply necessary treatment that’s designed to kill off fleas, with a focus on your pets’ sleeping areas. That also includes pet toys and other items or materials they regularly come into contact with. If your pets regularly come in and out of the house, you may want to have your lawn or landscaping treated as well.
Fleas may be found in a number of other animals as well, so be careful when you’re out hiking and stay away from dead animals you may encounter. Fleas jump ship fairly quickly when their host has died – and that means they’ll be in the hunt for a new one.
Centipedes are definitely one of the scarier looking pests out there for many homeowners. They’re commonly brownish or reddish in color, though other species can be in a multitude of other colors including yellow and white.
Their flat, elongated bodies are segmented, with each segment having a pair of legs, and they can have anywhere from 15 to over a hundred pairs of legs. They’re very fast and can travel 1.3 feet per second, and can even run up walls and furniture. They have claws and use venom to paralyze prey.
The great thing about centipedes though, is they only rarely bite humans. In fact, they’ll do their best to stay clear of you, and only bite you in self-defense.
Centipedes can be very beneficial in your home. They’re nocturnal creatures, and spend the night hunting more problematic pests like cockroaches, termites, silverfish, and even spiders. They don’t damage your home like termites do, contaminate your food like cockroaches, nor do they spread diseases like rodents.
If you do want to get rid of them though, or think you have one too many in your house, there are a few, easy steps you can follow.
- Close off pest entry points in to your house – that is, repair or install window screens, especially for any outside vent. Install weatherstripping, and make sure drains and pipes are properly sealed. Use caulk on cracks found on walls and around pipes. This prevents centipedes and other bugs from getting in to your home, which helps in the 2nd step.
- Get rid of their food sources. As mentioned earlier, centipedes prey on other pests, so making sure you have as less pests as possible in your house for them to feed on, will make them want to look for greener pastures.
- Run a humidifier, especially in your basement. This lessens damp and mold, and makes the area less appealing for many pests.
- Get rid of as many hiding places as possible, including old cardboard boxes, trash, compost piles and rocks.
- Of course, spray insecticide on any you find, and for good measure, spray on hard-to-reach areas you think may harbor pests.
If you follow these and still regularly find centipedes (and other pests) in your home, get in touch with a pest control services company and have a professional come out to look.
The word termite is derived from Latin and Late Latin words that mean “woodworm” and “to erode”. With a name like that, you know termites would be not just a nuisance, but a problem for your house.
There are currently over 3,000 species of termites classified, and of those, only 50 species are found in North America. They’re usually very small, measuring between 0.16 to 0.59 inches in length. The largest of these termites are the queens, which can measure over 4 inches.
To the average person, they may look like white ants, but there are a many differences. They’re antennae are almost straight, while ant antennae are elbowed. Their wings are also much longer, being twice as long as their body. Termite workers and soldiers that protect the colony don’t have wings. Ants have a thin waist, while termites have broad waists.
Each year, approximately 600,000 households in the US are damaged by termites, and each year, people spend $5 billion to control infestations and repair damage. Taking care of a termite problem at the first sign is key to saving your house from costly repairs in the future.
How do you know if you have termites in your house?
Termites feed on cellulose material, which may include paper, books, cotton, structural wood and wooden fixtures, and a termite colony can have as many as 20,000 to 5 million workers, with the primary queen of the colony laying as many as 10,000 eggs a day.
If you spot what looks like to be a pile of wood shavings or dirt, that may be a sign of termite activity nearby (carpenter ants also leave behind piles of wood shavings as they hollow out their nests). What termites do leave behind that look similar is frass or termite droppings.
Brittle-looking wood may be because termites are consuming the wood from the inside out, and are eating too close to the surface.
Tapping on an area with termite damage also produces a hollow sound.
If you hear faint, clicking noises from your walls, these may be soldier termites sending signals to others in the colony. Worker termites are noisy eaters, and you may even hear them munching away if you put your ear close to the wall.
So how do I get rid of them and make sure they don’t come back?
Doing your own termite pest control can be tricky, since they tend to be found in hard to reach places, and the damage they do may be structural. Products you can buy in the market to treat termite infestations tend to be expensive too.
A few easy ways you can safeguard against termites is to make sure it’s not that easy for them to get into your home. Remove mulch from your house, and consider putting down sandy soil around your home as a barrier. Make sure any outside vents are covered with a screen (steel mesh works great).
Sunlight is a great ally – if you have any infested furniture, simply take it outside and let the sun do its work.
You can also use a wet cardboard as a trap. Place it near an infested area, and once you see termites have moved on to it, you can move the cardboard outside to burn it.
You may also consider buying parasitic nematodes that feed on termites. You can mix them with water and place in a spray bottle, to be sprayed on infested areas.
For heavier infestations, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional pest control company!
If you’ve lived in Arizona long enough, then chances are you’ve seen a Palo Verde beetle or two – or more, since they come out by the hundreds of thousands between July and August. The Palo Verde root borer beetle, so-called because as grubs they especially enjoy munching on distressed roots of the Palo Verde tree, look like burlier cousins of the cockroach and can grow to around 3 to 3.5 inches long, making it one of the largest beetles in North America.
They range from dark brown to black in color, have wings that are almost as long as their bodies, and long antennae. They also have spikes on their thorax or middle section, and these may be sharp enough to cut through skin if you pick them up.
Though they prefer Mexican Palo Verde trees, they’re also found on olive and rose trees. While similar species are found throughout the northwest, these beetles in particular are most common in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
Every summer monsoon season, like clockwork, these beetles take to the air to find love. They can spend about a month looking for it, before they die. If they find it before then, they’ll crawl back underground near tree roots to lay their eggs before expiring. Their larvae, creamy white in color and growing up to 5 inches, then spends about3 to 4 years munching on distressed tree roots before emerging from their homes to begin the cycle all over again.
While these flying insects may look terrifying, they’re completely harmless. Once mature, they feed on fruit and nectar and while they are pretty harmless to other insects and animals, coyotes, bobcats, owls and others may find them to be a tasty treat. During their larval stage, those that may snack on them include coati, skunk, and even bears.
They are most active during the early evenings and are attracted to lights, so during their mating season, you may find them on your porch looking forlornly for other Palo Verde beetles to mate with.
There’s really not much you can do to ward off these beetles, besides investing in netting or screens for your porch or patio. Other than that, make sure the trees on your property and even immediate area are healthy with proper water and fertilizing, since their larvae don’t enjoy fresh, healthy roots and the beetles may end up looking elsewhere to lay their eggs.
If you’d like to enjoy a night out during these months when they’re most active, you may want to head to an indoor restaurant or bar instead. If riding a bicycle or a motorcycle during their mating season, make sure to always wear your proper safety gear and expect to encounter a Palo Verde beetle or two during your rides so you aren’t taken by surprise (and possibly get into an accident). If you like driving with the windows open or the top down during the evenings, consider avoiding these until after their mating season when they go back underground.
One of the most frightening things you may ever see in this world is a mother scorpion scuttling on the ground and carrying her babies – on her back! It may not look like it, but scorpions actually have great maternal instincts and are excellent caretakers of their brood as far as arthropods go (unless she gets too hungry… in which case, a mother scorpion has been known to snack on a baby or two, but only as a last resort, thank goodness). She carries them for several days and protects them until their first molt — shortly after, these baby scorpions will learn to hunt for themselves and leave to make a life of their own.
Baby scorpions are called scorplings, and unlike most arachnids, they are born alive and are even born one by one. While scorpions usually give birth to 20 to 30 babies, they can have as many as 100 babies per brood!
Scorplings are born with a very soft and light-colored exoskeleton which leaves them vulnerable to predators, and will climb on their mother’s back one by one for relative safety where they’ll stay for about 2 weeks.Once they molt, these exoskeletons will be replaced by another exoskeleton that is much harder, and this process will repeat a number of times throughout a scorpion’s life as it grows older and changes size.
A young scorpion will have a lighter color, and while they’re not able to sting as babies, once they’ve molted and have left their mothers they’ll have stings as painful (and as dangerous) as an adult’s. If you find one wandering your home, chances are its siblings, and possibly their mother, is still nearby.
Treat it as you would an adult scorpion and handle it with care. Make sure you’re wearing protective gear like gloves. If you’d like to release it outside, make sure to put it in a secure container to keep it away from your hands while you’re walking. Otherwise, insecticides will do the trick, and you’ll want to spray on cracks and crevices where more could be hiding.
Glue traps also work for catching scorpions and their food sources – which, by the way, you’ll want to get rid of as well if you don’t want scorpions in your house. They eat a number of insects, spiders, lizards, other scorpions and even small mammals like mice! Taking away their food source will make them want to move to more fertile lands.
You’ll then want to seal possible entry points into your house, such as cracks and crevices they can come into from outside. Put mesh on your outside vents, and screens on windows.
Note that scorpions would rather flee than attack you, but studies have shown that a mother carrying babies on her back may be more aggressive – this is likely because fleeing with her brood on her back makes for a slow escape, so she may want to take her chances with you head on. Handle with extreme care, or better yet, call a professional exterminator!
If you have a basement, chances are you’re already aware that there are bugs down there. Whether your basement is a sophisticated addition to your house or a messy storage area, basements typically offer a haven for bugs because it tends to be darker and damper relative to the rest of your house, and there’s generally less human and (pet) animal traffic.
In this blog post, we’re going to be talking about common bugs or pests you may find in your basement, and if they’re good for you or if you should give them the boot (figuratively speaking; there are better, less messy ways to deal with them).
A common dweller in basements all over (and a staple in Halloween decorations), spiders generally pose no harm and are in fact one of the more beneficial bugs (technically an arachnid) you’ll find in your house. They generally stay out of your way, and hunt other pesky bugs such as flies, mosquitoes, and cockroaches! They even eat other types of spiders, so you may notice the species of spider in your basement may change every once in a while.
Cellar spiders and common house spiders are two of the more prevalent spiders found in American homes, and they’re harmless. Cellar spiders don’t bite, and while common house spiders do if they’re threatened, they only cause minor irritation (unless you have an allergic reaction, then you may want to seek medical attention).
The two spiders you may find in your home that are dangerous are the Brown Recluse and Black Widow.
While both are shy and would rather flee than attack you if threatened, their bites contain toxic venom that are very painful, and in very rare occasions, may even lead to death.
You can spot a Black Widow by the yellowish orange or red hourglass shape on its abdomen, and a Brown Recluse by its violin-shaped mark (and they have 6 eyes instead of 8, but you probably don’t want to get close enough to see). If you’ve been bitten by either one, seek medical attention immediately.
Despite looking like hellspawn, they’re generally also one of the more useful crawling inhabitants you may find in your home or basement. Centipedes only bite if they’re given no other recourse to try and escape – otherwise, they spend their time hunting other pests (including cockroach eggs).
They may crawl into people’s ears, but no more than any other small insect might, and they only come into your house typically in colder months to escape the cold outside. They have pincers that may pinch you when they’re threatened, but the force is rarely enough to break skin. They’re harmless, and like the other creepy-crawlies we’ve discussed so far, earwigs spend their time hunting more problematic pests.
They’re dirty and pose health risks, spreading bacteria wherever they go including salmonella, streptococcus, staphylococcus, and more. When you find cockroaches in your basement, it’s time to clean it out.
If you see what you think are termites (or pale ants) then take immediate action. They come in colonies and destroy your house from the inside and may cause structural issues. Measures you can take are keeping the room and surrounding area as dry as possible, including limiting your use of mulch around your house.
What you can do to limit these pests
As we mentioned earlier, these bugs are attracted to the relative darkness and dampness of your basement. You can make things more inhospitable for these illegal occupiers by cleaning out your basement and eliminating dampness as much as you can.
Clear out any unnecessary boxes and consider replacing them with plastic containers, as cockroaches and other small insects like to use these as hiding places (or breeding grounds for their little ones).
Make sure your pipes are all in working order and that there’s not any spot in your basement where water accumulates. Consider using a dehumidifier which also helps eliminate mold buildup.
For any pest infestation, get in touch with a pest control provider to make sure pests are eliminated and kept out!