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The Ultimate Guide To Common West Pheonix Pests

Looking to learn more about the pests that frequently invade Arizona homes and businesses? Use this quick reference page to learn more about the common pests in our area! If you're dealing with pest pressures in or around your home, protect your property from these pests by learning about the threats they can pose and investing in our residential or commercial pest control services today! Listed in the pest profiles below are some of the most common insects and rodents found in the Greater Pheonix area.

Bed Bugs

a bed bug crawling on human skin in arlington arizona

Bed bugs are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of mammals. Humans are, unfortunately, their preferred host. Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day in tight cracks and crevices, and emerging at night to feed on their sleeping hosts. Adult bed bugs are wingless. They are about 1/4 of an inch long, have six legs, and flat oval-shaped bodies that are reddish-brown in color. After consuming a blood-meal, their appearance changes slightly; they turn a purple-reddish color, and their bodies expand and swell.

Bed bugs live wherever people are present. Common hideouts for bed bugs include hotels, shopping centers, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, dormitories, movie theaters, and libraries. Bed bugs move from place to place by hitchhiking on people or their belongings. Common signs that bed bugs have found their way into your home include discovering adult bed bugs (dead or alive) on or around mattresses and box springs and finding red dots or black streaks on bedding, mattresses, box springs, floors, or walls. Also look out for their shed skins underneath mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture. A professional should be called at the first sign of an infestation to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

To prevent problems with bed bugs in your home, it is important to keep bags, luggage, coats, and other personal belongings off the ground of public places. Always inspect your hotel room or other rental properties before bringing luggage and personal belongings into them. Keep personal belongings away from other people while at work or school. Do not purchase used furniture, mattresses, or box springs for use inside your home. Regularly wash your family’s bedding on a high heat cycle, and inspect mattresses and box springs for signs of bed bugs. Employ a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs to help reduce hiding spots in your home.

Black Widows

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Black widow spiders are dangerous arachnids that are found living throughout parts of the United States. Black widow spiders are shiny and black, have round bodies, and have eight legs. These spiders are most often identified by a red mark located on the underside of their abdomens. The red mark is hourglass-like in shape. These spiders may also have light red or white spots on their abdomens and backs.

Out in nature, black widow spiders like to live and create their webs between flat rocks, in woodpiles, near foundations, under decks, and inside barns, sheds and other outbuildings. They may find their way inside looking for food sources and hide out in dark, quiet areas. Black widow spiders have venom that is strong enough to cause health problems in people. Their venom compromises the nervous system of their victim. If you ever suspect a black widow spider bite, medical attention should be sought to treat your symptoms.

To help prevent dangerous black widow spiders from becoming a problem on your property, remove excess debris that they can hide in. Maintain your lawn and keep your grass cut short. To keep these spiders from finding their way into your home, seal cracks in the foundation, make sure screens are intact, and place weather stripping around windows and doors.

Crickets

a cricket crawling on the floor of a home in buckeye arizona

Crickets are omnivorous insects that feed on a wide variety of food and non-food sources. These insects are mainly active at night. They can be identified by their large, powerful back legs and long antennae. One of the most common species found living inside homes is the aptly named house cricket. They are yellowish-brown and have three distinctive dark cross-bands going across their heads. Their thread-like antennae are often longer than their bodies. House crickets are winged. Males rub their forewings together at night to make the loud, distinctive high-pitched sounds that this species is known for.

Crickets prefer to live outside, but will move inside to take advantage of a temperature-controlled environment. Crickets move inside when the weather outside becomes too hot or dry for them to live comfortably. Crickets are not dangerous pests, but they are a nuisance. They hide in hard-to-reach areas, and can be difficult to find and eliminate. Crickets can cause damage to fabric items, such as curtains, upholstered furniture, clothing, wallpaper, and indoor plants.

To prevent problems with invasive crickets, it is important to make your home and property as unappealing to them as possible. Keep the grass on your property cut short. Leave a barrier between any mulch and soil and your home’s foundation. Remove excess piles of wood, grass, and leaves from your property. Eliminate entry points by sealing cracks in the foundation and exterior walls of your home. Put door sweeps on exterior doors especially basement doors. Inspect plants before bringing them indoors.

Rodents

roof rats inside of a home in brenda arizona

Rodents are mammals. All species of rodents are characterized by a single pair of front incisors found in the upper and lower jaw that continuously grow. To prevent their teeth from overgrowing, rodents repetitively gnaw on anything they can get their teeth on. Many species of rodents have come to somewhat rely on people for their food, water, and shelter, and they have become a major problem inside homes and businesses. Three common species of rodents found invading properties in our area are house mice, Norway rats, and roof rats.

Rodents pose a danger to both people and property. Both rats and mice have the potential to transmit a wide variety of diseases, bacteria, and parasites to people. Rodents contaminate food sources and the surfaces of homes with their urine, feces, and saliva. They can cause structural damage inside structures by chewing through pipes, wires, insulation, flooring, and drywall. Their chewing can also lead to fire and water damage. Things that initially attract rodents to a property include open containers of garbage, compost piles, gardens, bird feeders, fruit trees, dense vegetation, outdoor eating areas, and pet food.

To prevent rodents like mice and rats from taking over your property, it is important to remove water sources, wood piles, piles of leaves, garbage, and excess debris from your property. Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting lids on them, and place gardens, compost piles, and wood piles away from the exterior of your home. To stop them from finding their way into your home, eliminate as many entry points as possible by caulking cracks in the foundation and exterior walls, and sealing spaces around utility entrances. Repair any loose or missing roof shingles, make sure chimneys have tight-fitting caps, and repair holes along the roofline.

Scorpions

a striped bark scorpion outside of a home in centennial arizona

Scorpions typically range in length from 2 to 4 inches. They have many eyes, but poor vision. Scorpions have four pairs of legs, including a large pair of front pincers that they use for capturing and holding down their prey. Their elongated, segmented tails are arched and at the tip of their tail is a segment which acts as a stinger. The stinger is used to paralyze prey as a means of defense. Two common species of scorpions found in our area are the bark scorpion and the desert hair scorpion. Bark scorpions are brown to brownish-yellow and have dark, lengthwise bands on their bodies. Desert hair scorpions have brown hairs that cover their whole bodies.

In nature, scorpions typically create burrows in the soil, under rocks, and logs, under mulch, or behind tree bark. If the weather becomes too hot, they like to move inside homes and seek refuge in damp, dark areas like basements, crawlspaces, and behind walls. Scorpions are considered dangerous pests to live in or around your home. Their venom is powerful, and their stings are painful. Bark scorpions have venom that is strong enough to cause significant, life-threatening health problems in people.

To prevent scorpions from being a threat to your home and family, it is important to seal all of your home’s entry points. Eliminate gaps in the foundation and exterior walls, make sure all doors and windows have intact screens, and place door sweeps on exterior doors. Seal spaces around air-conditioners and utilities entering into your home from its exterior. To make your property less attractive to scorpions, remove fallen trees and logs from your property and get rid of piles of organic debris. Trim trees and overgrown bushes away from the exterior of your home. It is also a good idea to place a stone barrier between your home’s foundation and any mulch or soil.

Termites

a termite crawling on wood inside of a home in gila bend arizona

Termites are wood-eating insects that are responsible for causing more than five billion dollars in damage to homes across the country each year. The most common termites are subterranean termites. These ground-nesting termites live together in large colonies with a complex social structure. Each colony divides its members into three different castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives (kings and queens). Workers make up the majority of a termite colony and are responsible for tunneling through wooden structures to gather food for the colony. Soldiers have large, strong jaws that they use to defend the colony. The reproductives are the only winged members of the colony.

Termites living outside in nature are beneficial insects. They are responsible for helping to speed up the breaking down of decaying trees and vegetation. Termites are especially attracted to properties with moisture issues. Termites often find their way inside homes while foraging for food. Termites are pests that can cause significant damage to homes without ever being seen. They tunnel through and feed on wood from the inside, leaving the outside looking "normal". Termites have the potential to damage a home for months, or even years, before their destruction is noticed.

To prevent termites from choosing your property to invade, limit wood-to-soil contact on your property, remove fallen trees and tree stumps, and remove piles of leaves or other debris. Inside your home, reduce moisture levels by using dehumidifiers, repairing leaky pipes, and removing any wood that has been damaged by water. To stop termites from finding their way into your home, seal spaces in the foundation and leave at least an 18-inch barrier between any soil or mulch and the foundation.
 
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