Blister beetles are an interesting bunch of beetles. There are about 300 species in the US primarily found in the Southwest, and they vary in color from brown, black, to gray, and may have yellow, reddish orange, black, or white stripes or spots. They’re about an inch to an inch and a half in length, have elongated, pliable bodies, long legs, compound eyes, a bowed head, and a distinctivethread-like antenna.
The master blister beetle, or Lytta magister, is a mix of deep black and bright red orange in color. You may find these beetles by the swarm in Phoenix during springtime, dangling from flowering brittlebushes.
When threatened, these beetles pop a blood vessel on their leg joints which secretes a bad smelling, yellowish substance that contains cantharidin, a burn agent (or a poison in large doses) that is colorless and odorless. When in contact with human skin, it causes painful blisters, hence why the beetle is called a blister beetle. It’s this same secretion that deters birds and mice to feed on these beetles, and leaves them to propagate their species in peace.
A male beetle courts a female by climbing on her back and sweeping his antennae across her head. If the male beetle is smaller than the female beetle, she refuses. When they do mate, they can stay attached to each other for hours, with some couples being observed to be attached for more than 24 hours. During this time, the female beetle goes about her business feeding from flower to flower with the male attached to her back.
Once they finish mating and separate, the female flies off to find a place where she can lay her eggs in the ground and she then promptly leaves them to their fate. Once these eggs hatch and turn into beetle grubs, they then burrow into the soil in search of food, which come in the form of grasshopper eggs. Sounds harsh for the little grasshopper babies, but bees may have it worse.
Other species of blister beetles have newborn larvae called triungulin. These triungulin pack themselves together by the hundreds to mimic the look of a female bee (they even smell like a female bee). When a male bee comes along to try to mate with fake bee, the triungulin then latch on to the male bee’s body and some of them get off when the male bee comes into contact with other actual female bees. Eventually these triungulin find their way to the bee’s nest where they feast on bee larva and their food. Other choice snacks include eggs of wasps and locusts.
If you find an infestation of these beetles on your property, call a professional exterminator to take care of them for you so you can remain blister free!
If you think about where scorpions live, do you picture them in lush forests, or in arid deserts?
Both scenarios are actually correct. Often thought of as desert dwellers, these highly adaptable creatures actually thrive both in lush Brazilian forests and arid deserts. In fact, they can be found in all continents except Antarctica. The evolutionary history of scorpions go back hundreds of millions of years, and they’ve adapted to live in a variety of environmental conditions, including the harsh living conditions on top of snow covered mountains.
Scorpions belong to the class Arachnida. They are predatory arachnids under the order of Scorpiones, and are closely related to spiders, ticks and mites. These arthropods have 8 legs and are easily recognizable by the forward curve over their backs that end in a stinger full of venom.
Speaking of venom, there are almost 2,000 scorpion species, and all of them have a venomous sting! The good news is that of that number, only about 30 species carry enough venom capable of killing a human. In remote places where these venomous species are found, people dying from scorpion stings occur regularly, especially if they’re in remote locations with no easy access to modern medical facilities.
This is especially concerning in underdeveloped tropical and subtropical countries – according to studies published on Medline, the annual estimated number of scorpion stings is 1.2 million, and of this, 0.27% lead to deaths. It may not seem much, but that’s 3240 people every year. That means that for every person killed by a poisonous or venomous snake, 10 people are killed by venomous scorpions.
What we should worry about in the US
In the United States, that number is much, much lower – only 4 people have died as a result of a scorpion sting in over a decade.That said, a scorpion sting can still very painful.
Most of the scorpions in the country are found in the southwest. Arizona is popular for being home to a lot of these scorpions, including the most venomous species in the country, the potentially deadly Arizona bark scorpion – also found in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
Scorpions are nocturnal, burrowing creatures. They like to hide under rocks, trees, bushes, in holes, anything where they can find shelter from the sun – including your house and garage. They have been found to hide under piles of laundry, and even seek shelter in unusedshoes. They are also known to lie in wait for their prey so you may not even notice them when you pass byuntil the scorpion, fearing for its life, stings you.
If you find one, there’s a good chance there are more in the area (a pregnant scorpion can give birth to dozens of scorplings at the same time). If it’s inside your home, there’s also a good chance that your home is vulnerable and that there are pest entry points you need to locate and seal.
Never handle a scorpion with your bare hands, and insecticide sprays only work when sprayed directly on the scorpion. If you need professional help, pest control services like Watchdog Pest Control are only a call away.
Roaches are one of the more common pests that plague the average household. One minute you’re totally relaxed, watching television — and the next, you’re screaming for your life running out of the room while the little creature of terror flies maniacally behind you.
But where did it come from? Well, there are many ways a roach could have entered your dwelling space. You could have unknowingly brought one in that hitched a ride in your grocery bag,or they were hiding out in a cardboard box that was delivered to your door. More likely is that they were just outside and shimmied through the gaps on your doors and windows (they can squeeze through spaces as little as one-sixteenth of an inch). They can even come through your pipes (they can hold their breath for 40 minutes).
Like many pests, they like places that are warm, have moisture, are dark, and have readily available food sources – all of which your home offers.
There’s a stigma that roaches are only found in dirty homes, however this is not true. Roaches don’t discriminate when it comes to setting up house, but they do enjoy places where there is more food available – that means, trash not properly disposed, dishes left in the sink, food items not properly stored – these all contribute to roaches staying longer, and the longer they stay means the more babies they’ll give birth to in the sanctuary that is your house.
That said, even clean houses can have a roaches living in it. Roaches need very little to survive. They can survive a month without food, and a week without water, and are happy enough with the warmth that your house provides.
If your house or apartment isn’t newly built, then chances are they’ve always been there. They’re very nocturnal creatures, so unless you’re regularly awake during the night, you might not even know they’re there.
Once inside your home, they’re hard to find unless they come out from wherever it is they’re hiding. They will hide inside walls and under sinks, especially in a room that isn’t often used. They like basements and attics, and have no problem traveling from one room to the next to get to their food.
To help safeguard against roaches living with you, make sure you always check your grocery bags every time you bring one home. If you have something delivered, check the box – it’s not that uncommon to find small roaches have taken up space in there. And since empty boxes are a favorite breeding ground for cockroaches, make sure you properly dispose of them right away.
Caulk or seal gaps along your walls and doors, especially cracks between walls and pipes. You may also want to use drain covers for sinks that are pest-proof, that is, with holes small enough that roaches won’t be able to squeeze through, and invest in nets or mesh for windows and outside vents.
Properly disposing trash, regularly washing your dishes, and properly storing your food also go a long way to make your house more inhospitable for roaches.
And if you have more roaches than you care to deal with, having a professional come take a look is just a phone call away.
There are around 4,600 species of cockroaches, but thankfully only about 30 species are associated with human habitats. In Arizona, there are only about 20 species. These cockroaches are often referred to as sewer roaches or even water bugs, though the latter is because some cockroaches, like the Oriental cockroach in particular, are often mistaken for the Giant Water Bug due to how similar they look.
Now we all know how hardy cockroaches are. It’s often said that they can even survive a city devastated by a nuclear explosion – they can withstand exposure to extreme radiation to a certain extent, according to MythBusters.
But another not-so-fun fact about cockroaches is that they can survive underwater for quite some time. Fully submerged, they can “hold their breath” for about 40 minutes. This is because roaches don’t breathe through their mouths and they don’t have noses. What they have are called spiracles, which are holes in their sides. They can close these holes and stay fully submerged in water for about 40 minutes. It’s this same ability that lets them crawl through our house’s or apartment’s pipes and drains – a way of moving inside and outside dwelling spaces commonly attributed to American cockroaches.
A cockroach can survive without food for up to a month – this is because it actually gets most of its nutrients from the bacteria living on its body, and it can survive without water for about a week. If a cockroach loses its head for some reason, it can survive for quite some time before it dies of thirst. If you think about it, sewers are not only great highways for cockroaches, but also great places for them to live in. It’s dark, they can feed on accumulated gunk, and they have a source of water.
Drain cleaning, drain treatments, and drain traps go a long way to eliminating not only roaches but a number of other insects that spread disease and bacteria, and having clean pipes mean eliminating conditions where these insects may thrive. Also be sure to use a proper drain cover where roaches can’t easily slip through (and they can slip through extremely small spaces including openings 1/16 of an inch).
When cleaning these pipes and drains, make sure to wear gloves and a safety mask as the cleaning process may aerosolize pathogenic bacteria. Some pesticides can be used on drains, but make sure to read labels carefully before use.
Make sure your drain pipes are properly sealed. If you find any cracks or holes, seal them with appropriate caulk. That includes gaps or spaces between pipes and walls where cockroaches may come through. Fix leaky faucets and dripping pipes, and wrap insulation foam around pipes that produce condensation. Standing water attracts roaches, and removing possible sources of hydration for them will make them want to look for a more habitable dwelling.
They may also come through doors and windows, so invest in weatherstripping to secure gaps and be sure to use mesh on outside vents.
These are actually called Crane flies, and while they look like scarier and meaner (and obviously bigger) mosquitoes, they’re actually quite harmless.
They look very similar to mosquitoes (maybe a cross between mosquitoes and spiders), but are significantly larger growing up to 60 mm in size with some tropical species growing up to 100 mm. They have very long thin legs and slim abdomens. Female Crane flies have slightly larger abdomens that end in a pointed ovipositor that mimics the look of a stinger (but they can’t actually sting).
When not moving, the wings are held out from the body, and unlike mosquitoes they are actually quite ungraceful fliers and may appear to wobble through the air at times. Another key difference between the two is that they’re attracted to light – that’s mainly the reason why they hang out in and around your homes, and not because they’re drawn to your blood.
Unlike mosquitoes, they don’t bite people or animals. They also aren’t known to carry any disease they can spread to people and animals. They may occasionally eat nectar, but in most species the adult does not eat at all. An adult crane fly only lives for about 15 days, and spends its time finding a mate and laying eggs before it dies.
Most of its life is spent as a larva, and they’re commonly referred to as leatherjackets or leatherjacket slugs due to the way they move and eat roots. These are soil-dwelling larvae, and they’re more numerous after a wet autumn. They mainly eat lawn grass but may also end up damaging small plants in flower beds and vegetable plots as they chew their way through.
One way to tell if you have an infestation of leatherjacket slugs is if you notice brown or dead patches of grass. You can look through the soil and you should find those slugs at the surface or near the surface. They typically remain under the soil, but will come up the surface on wet nights to feed on plant stems. They have elongated, tubular bodies up to 30 mm in length and are grayish brown.
They may be beneficial to gardeners as they speed up progress in a compost pile by feeding on decaying organic matter, however may end up killing your plants if there are too many feeding on them.
If you have an infestation, you can use parasitic nematodes (SteinernemaFeltiae) on your lawn or soil. These nematodes enter the bodies of leatherjacket slugs and infect them. However, they need a minimum temperature to exist –54°F (12°C)– so it may be tricky to use them. You can also introduce natural predators such as birds. You can encourage insect-eating birds on your property by hanging nest boxes and bird feeders on your property. If you have leatherjacket slugs, rest assured these birds will come find them.
These spiders are found in the hot and humid desert environments of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Recluse spiders are known to have a violin-shaped mark on their backs, but with the Desert Recluse spider, these markings may be a bit more difficult to see as they’re mostly a uniform tan or brown in color.
Wolf spiders, commonly mistaken for recluse spiders, have 8 eyes whereas the Recluse has 6 eyes arranged in three groups of two – this separates them from a lot of other spider species since most spiders have 8 eyes.
They’re ¼ to ½ inch long, and spin irregularly shaped webs where they spend most of their day in, before going out to hunt for food during the night. They feed on small insects but will occasionally dine on a large insect if it’s already dead.
They’re rarely found indoors, and prefer the outdoors in dark, undisturbed places. They may be found in dead cacti, wood, and may even stay in rodent burrows where they may also have a steadier stream of insect food.
If found indoors, like most other spiders, they may be found resting along cracks and crevices on your walls, or even under an undisturbed pile of laundry or other debris.
They typically live for 2 to 4 years, and may produce over 100 spiderlings a year.
Desert Recluse bites may cause reddened skin that may develop blisters, and the bite site will be quite itchy for the first few hours. Their bites, while perhaps not immediately painful for all bite victims, are necrotic and may cause a breakdown of tissue several days after the bite, which may then take several weeks or months to heal.
Other symptoms of a Recluse bite may be fever and chills, skin rashes, vomiting or nausea, or even joint pain.
Necrotic flesh is black, dead tissue, so if you suspect that you’ve been bitten by a Recluse spider, seek medical attention right away.
If possible, try to capture the spider that bit you so you can bring it in for positive identification by professional staff.
Now if you’ve found a Recluse spider in your home or property, you may want to get in touch with a professional pest control company to have them come and take a look – there may be more Recluse spiders in your home that you haven’t discovered yet. Professionals can remove these dangerous spiders and other pests to help ensure your safety, and companies like Watchdog Pest Control will put in measures to prevent them from coming back.
Measures you can put in place to prevent Desert Recluse spiders from finding your home appealing are sealing the cracks along your walls that they can use as entry points. You may also want to invest in screens for your windows, and place steel mesh on any outside vent.
These measures would also help deter other pests from coming in to your home, and remember, since Desert Recluse spider feed on insects, the less you have in your home, the less appealing it is for them to stay there.
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 spidersthat 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.