Rats and mice are common pests found in residential homes and business properties all over the world. You can distinguish between rats and mice by how they look: rats are large, typically gray or brown rodents with long tails and small ears while mice are small and typically light brown rodents with dark-colored tails and large ears.
To have effective pest control against rodents, you would be better served by not only knowing what they look like, but also knowing about their behavior – for example, setting rat traps on your kitchen floor may not be as effective against roof rats (who like to set up dwellings in elevated places such as attics) as it would be as effective against the common house mouse.
Typically, rats are more cautious in that they’re very careful when something new is found in their environment, such as a bait trap. They will want to avoid this trap for some time before they get used to it, while mice are more curious and will want to investigate right away when something new is introduced to their environment.
The deer mouse is small, typically only 3 to 4 inches in size not including the tail (their tails can be about as long as their bodies, dark-colored on top and lighter on the underside). They have large, beady eyes and large fur-covered ears. They can vary in color from white to black, but they all have a distinguishable white underbelly and white feet. They’re nocturnal creatures and prefer nests made of plant material, and as such are attracted to homes with plenty of vegetation, but they can also set up their base in piles of rocks or firewood.
Deer mice are one of the main carriers of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. You can get this from direct contact with the rodent, their urine, or their droppings. This disease may also spread by breathing in contaminated dust with rodent urine or droppings. They’re also carriers of Lyme disease, rat-bite fever, and salmonellosis.
They typically have small heads, feet, pointed snouts, and large ears with some hair. They have light brown bodies with some gray shading, an off-white underbelly, and a dark tail. House mice depend on people for food and shelter, and as such are quite common in Arizona homes. They only eat about one-tenth of an ounce of food a day, but can produce as many as 50 droppings per day – which means they are a major health hazard for the average Arizona home.
They can transmit salmonella and leptospirosis via their droppings. They’re carriers of lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), as well as tapeworms, infectious jaundice, and rat-bite fever.
Some signs that you have these pests in your home are droppings, urine odors, gnawed holes (and wires!), if you hear scampering noises, and even if your pet exhibits unusual behavior. If you suspect that your home has been invaded by these pests, get in touch with a pest exterminator right away.
About 40% of all mammal species are rodents, making them the largest order of mammals. These include rats, mice, hamsters, squirrels, porcupines, and their relatives.
Of these, only a handful of rats and mice are a nuisance to people, and we’ll be discussing the ones that may find themselves in our homes.
These rats are called pack rats because of their characteristic accumulation of food and various debris, which they keep stocked in their dens (or near their den area). Such collections may include edible plants, small pebbles, sticks, feces, insect and vertebrate remains, shiny metal objects, and other small items taken from humans.
Also known as woodrats, they have large eyes, protruding ears that are almost bald, and white-colored feet. They have long, thick and soft fur that can range in color from gray to reddish brown (and white to rust-colored on their underparts). Some populations of desert woodratsare black in color. Often confused with Norway rats, they have tails that are covered in fur.
They’re nocturnal and generally solitary. Bushy-tailed woodrats are vegetarians and prefer green vegetation such as leaves, needles and shoots, while Mexican woodrats eat fruits, seeds, nuts, and mushrooms. Some species also eat animal matter and small insects.
If they’re inside your home, they can damage electrical wiring, wall insulation, and pipes. They make off with small objects such as jewelry (remember, they like shiny metal objects), and they bring these items to their dens, which are lined with urine and feces. They’ve also been known to rip out padding from cushions and pillows to use as lining in their nests.
Pack rats carry diseases including the plague, and their dens and droppings are also a health hazard.
Also known as black rats, roof rats have black or dark brown colored fur with a lighter underside. They have long, hairless tails that measure longer than its entire body. They’re called roof rats because of their tendency to nest in the upper levels of the home such as attics, and they’re excellent climbers. Out in nature, they tend to nest in trees, and may find themselves in your home by walking along tree limbs that connect to your house.
They’re omnivores and have a wide range of food they can eat from seeds, fruits, fungi to a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. They’ll also eat any food provided for cats and dogs, and food provided for some farm animals such as cows and chickens. They’re known to keep food in small caches to be consumed at a later time.
They carry and spread diseases such as leptospirosis and typhus, and their feces and urine also pose a health hazard. Roof rats are skittish and will avoid anything new introduced in the area, so it may be a while before they venture out to a trap or bait you’ve set up.
If you find either rodent in your house, get in touch with a pest control exterminator to have them removed.
Using cinnamon to naturally take care of an ant problem is pretty popular on the Internet. You’ll find article after article detailing the steps of eliminating an ant problem yourself using only cinnamon.
A study published in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications in 2014 showed that cinnamon essentialoil is in fact highly effective in repelling and killing ants at certain concentrations.
So yes, cinnamon essential oil can repel and even kill ants, but note that it’s “at certain concentrations”, and the cinnamon essential oils you can buy at any store may not have the same level of concentration as the cinnamon essential oils used in the study.
Cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powders can also repel ants, but it won’t kill them. Sprinkling cinnamon powder on ants will only scatter them and make them angry, and placing cinnamon sticks on their entry points and routes will only make them find a new way in and out of your house.
Taking care of an ant problem means finding the nest and eliminating all the ants there, and your store-bought cinnamon oil may not be potent enough to kill them and only repel them – and that won’t help you in the long run.
If you discover an ant nest or mound, you’d be better off using commercial insecticide,or better yet, use professional grade insecticide that is sureto get the job done.
Most of the ants you see in your home are only a small fraction of the colony that is surely nearby – and those are forager ants, meaning they’re only there to look for food. You can help yourself out by eliminating possible food sources for these ants so they’ll be forced to look elsewhere.
Mop and vacuum your kitchen and clean your food pantry to ensure there aren’t morsels of food ants can help themselves to. Immediately clean up any food spillage, and regularly sweep to make sure there are no crumbs and other food debris that will entice ants and other pests.
Keep your food in airtight containers (note that some ants can chew through plastic), and keep them in places not easily accessible to ants. If you’re keeping pastry on your kitchen counter, consider placing the container on a tray filled with water, and you may also want to cover it with something in case a fly wanders in.
While ants can get in your house just about anywhere including the cracks between your floorboards, it can help stave off an ant infestation (or other pest infestation) if you seal and caulk cracks and crevices on your property.
Cockroaches come into your house primarily because of two things: food and water. Most species of cockroach prefer the great outdoors to call their home, but other roaches, particularly the American cockroach, prefer the sanctity of your home where they’ll find shelter from the sun (and the elements), and most definitely food and water. Finding a regular supply of food and water is definitely high on their list.
They can come through your pipes and drains, windows, doors, the gaps and cracks on your walls, vents, and a number of other places you won’t even think to look. Once they establish that yes, your home is a nice, cozy place, you best believe they’ll set up shop there. They may call the rest of their family and friends in, or give birth to a whole brood of fresh roaches right under your nose.
What are these sources of food? Well, roaches can eat almost anything. They get most of their nutrients from the bacteria living on their bodies, so they’re not exactly concerned with how healthy their food is – they’ve been known to eat the most unexpected things like toothpaste and even glue (like the glue on the back of stamps). They can eat dead skin flakes, eyelashes, fingernails – they prefer dead things because their jaws are actually quite weak.
If they have their pick, of course, it’ll be a wide array of choices from your garbage bin. So if you want to make your place inhospitable from roaches, keep your garbage properly contained and disposed of in a timely manner. Don’t leave dishes on the sink overnight either, because they will love to clean off those plates if you give them the opportunity.
Roaches are nocturnal creatures, and during daytime, they prefer to find dark, damp places to settle in. Get rid of possible hiding places in your house such as old storage boxes, which are also great places for roaches to lay their eggs in. Fix leaky faucets and make sure you don’t have standing water where you don’t want it (which can also serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes). You may also want to wrap insulation on pipes that condense, as that can also serve as a regular source of water for roaches – remember, they can live for a month without food, but only for a week without water.
Seal or caulk gaps and cracks on your walls, especially if you have any gaps between the wall and any piping. Invest in screens for your windows and any outside vents, and use weatherstripping on windows and doors.
Also remember that cockroaches are a great source of food for a number of other pests like spiders and cockroaches, so if you have them, there’s a good chance these other pests will want to set up shop in your home too.
If you’ve tried to get rid of cockroaches on your own but still find them in your house after a day or two, then it may be time to call a professional pest exterminator like Watchdog Pest Control for a guaranteed pest-free home.
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.