Archive for July, 2009

Black Widow Spider Bites First Aid

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Black widow spider bites can be very scary. Although it might not sound comforting, it’s rare that a black widow bite is deadly. The black widow bite is more harmful to children and elderly people. In any case, a bite victim should be taken to a hospital for professional help as there are many uncomfortable side-effects from the poison.

Sometimes people might not realize they have been bitten by a black widow. There are some effects from the bite that will become obvious once you’ve been bitten. Just because you didn’t feel it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Here’s a list symptoms that could occur:

  • If you saw the bite happen check the area where the spider was, 2 red spots will appear from the bite. If you didn’t see the spider bite you, you should be able to find the spot from the itching that will develop.
  • The pain will move through your body from the bite mark but it will mainly affect your back and/or abdomen.
  • Swelling can occur in some areas of your body such as the bite mark, your feet and even your eyelids.
  • The poison that the black widow spider carries will also affect your nervous system.
  • Additional side-effects that can occur include:
    • Tightness or pain in your chest or muscles
    • Nausea
    • Heavy sweating
    • Weakness, most often in your legs
    • Itching
    • Vomiting

Since the black widow is poisonous you can call Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-362-0101.

Again this can be very scary and overwhelming, but try to stay calm and get yourself or the bite victim to the nearest hospital. If you have to wait for an ambulance, or for any reason can not get to a hospital, follow these simple steps to help aid the bite:

  • Clean the bite mark with soap and water.
  • Elevate the area that has been bitten to the level of your heart.
  • Put some antibiotic cream or lotion on the mark.
  • Apply a cold compress.

Spiders: The Black Widow

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The black widow spider is the most venomous spider in the U.S. Interestingly, only the female black widow spider holds the claim to fame as the most venomous spider in the U.S. That’s because the male black widow spider can’t quite match up to its female counterpart. Yes, male black widows do have venom in them, but not nearly as much or as strong as the female. The female’s venom is said to be as strong as some rattlesnake’s venom. If you’ve been bitten, it’s important to try to capture the spider so you can check to see if it is male or female.

black widow spider female

Here is a female black widow spider.

There are distinct differences between the male and female to help identify them in the case of a bite. The female can be up to an inch and a half long and has a round shiny black body with a red spot in a shape resembling an hour glass. The male is smaller in size than the female but also has a round shiny black body. The body is usually smaller with longer legs than the females. Males have red and yellow stripes or spots on their bodies. In any case, a black widow spider bite should be taken seriously, especially in children and elder people. If you have determined the spider bite is from a female it would be best to go to the nearest hospital. There are also a few at-home first-aid steps for a black widow spider bite you can take to help aid the bite.

The black widow hangs upside down from its web which can sometimes be helpful to see its color and distinguish if it is male or female. The web that they hang from is silky, sticky, strong and often looks like it is tangled up.

The web for a black widow spider plays a few different roles. They spend most of their time in their web and do not like to venture far from it. The black widow sleeps on or near its web during the day because it is nocturnal. The black widows eat other insects that get trapped in its web like crickets, cockroaches, small spiders, and beetles. If no insects have been trapped within the web, the black widow will go hunt for its prey.

There are times where an object can be found hanging from the web. It is white to brown in color and some people say it looks like a moth ball. In reality, it is actually a sack of eggs that the spider has laid.

spiders black widow egg sack

Hanging on the side of a planter, this black widow is protecting her egg sacks.

The black widow reproduces in the summer time. It can take up to 30 days for the babies to come out of the sack. There can be anywhere from 100 to 600 baby black widow spiders in one sack, however not nearly as many are born. Oddly enough, baby spiders are cannibals and eat one another to survive until they are hatched. Sometimes only as many as 15 babies will survive. This notion of cannibalism can be found in adult female black widows too. While it does not happen in such a high frequency as the babies, the female will sometimes eat the male after mating with him.

The black widow spider lives all over the United States, although it is more prominent in the southern part of the country. Therefore, no matter where you are living, always check for black widow spider webs because many times, the spiders can be found on their webs. It is a natural reaction to get an object and try to kill one when found, however that is actually a very bad idea. The black widow can be harmless if it’s not disturbed. When people disturb it by trying to kill it, they will usually attack. If you do find black widows on your property, be very careful of what you do. It is best to just call your local pest control company to come out and take care of the spiders, so you do not risk getting attacked.

Many people find black widow spider webs inside and outside of their home. They like to spin their webs close to the ground so most often they will be found in dark areas and corners of the home, or even outside of the structure. Storage sheds or garages are also a popular place for the black widow to make its web. As with many other types of pests the black widow spider can be found in piles of wood, storage boxes, and underneath objects. They also like to live close to their food supply, which consists of other insects. So if you have a lot of crickets, cockroaches, beetles, or spiders around your home, have a professional pest control company come to your house regularly or use some store-bought spray and do-it-yourself. Read our blog on tips for preventing black widow spiders from your home.

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Spiders: Black Widow Spider Prevention Tips

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

In general, spiders are a little harder to get rid of than your typical pest. Because spiders do not absorb things through their legs and feet like other pests, you can not just spray pesticides to keep them off your property. However there are some things that can be done to help prevent black widows from getting near your home.

With do-it-yourself-pest-control, the best remedy is fast action when you see a black widow. Pesticides will work if sprayed directly on the spider. If the spider is disturbed it may try to attack, so be cautious and keep your distance as you spray. Also, be ready to chase it if it starts running away. Another at-home remedy is leaving sticky traps around your property. This way you can trap them with out physically being around, which proves to be very helpful since they are nocturnal.

Having a professional pest control company service your home can help to prevent black widow spiders from getting near your home. That’s because black widows tend to live near their food supply which consists of other insects.  So, if your house is being maintained to keep other insects away it will not be as attractive for a black widow to make its home there.

Whether you’re having a professional exterminator come out to your home or you’re using do-it-yourself pest control, there are some additional preventative measures you can take to keep black widows away. Keep in mind that black widows like dark places and usually make their web close to the ground. Whether you’re inside your home or outside, keep your eye out for their tangled-up webs. Here are some tips to keep in mind for the inside of your home:

black widow spider prevention

A box against a wall is a black widow hot-spot.

  • Keep nothing underneath your bed.
  • Do not let your bed skirt touch the floor.
  • Try to keep your bed from actually touching the wall.
  • Keep any storage that is in your room away from the walls, it makes a perfect corner for black widows.
  • Keep your clothes and shoes in proper storage places, like hanging in the closet, dresser drawers, shoes boxes, or shoe racks.
  • When vacuuming get all of the corners, especially in dark areas, like behind and under furniture.
  • Check for any cracks or openings on walls, if present, seal them up.
  • Seal any openings in the door frame, and the threshold.
  • Check screens on doors and windows to make sure they are secure and do not have any holes. If they are not secure or have holes, replace them with new screens that fit properly and have no damage.

There are also things to do outside of your home that can help prevent black widows from settling on your property. Here are some tips for keeping your back, front, and side yard black widow free:

  • Keep grass, shrubs, and weeds trimmed; you do not want them getting too tall.
  • Keep trash, wood piles, plywood, storage and general junk away from the house (do not prop or pile against the exterior walls). Keep trash in a properly sealed trash can.
  • If you have a storage area or shed, check and/or shake any items from the shed before you use them. This is a hot spot for black widows.
  • Check and/or shake gardening equipment before using, especially gloves.
  • When doing yard work, make sure your hands are protected so they do not get bitten.

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Rats: Pack Rats

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The pack rat is a small and mighty rodent that can cause a lot of problems for home owners. Pack rats are about 8-20 inches long including the tail and have large ears. Their fur is a brownish gray color all over the body with white fur covering their under belly and feet. They have bushy hair on their tails. The pack rat is nocturnal, but there have been times people have seen them running around in the day time.

rats pack rats

Here is a pack rat.

They frequent desert areas because of the climate, making the Southwest one popular place for them to reside. They enjoy the desert as well as the forest and can live as far north as Canada in elevations from below sea level up to 8000 feet. Along with having many places to live, the pack rat also has a few different names. Although the rodent is most often referred to as a pack rat, it can also be called trade rat. It belongs to the wood rat rodent family.

A pack rat often uses the Cholla or Beavertail cactus as its home in the desert. The rats pick cacti because they can live inside and be protected from most predators.  The pack rat will build a nest inside the cacti, however sometimes the rat will choose to live at the base of the cactus and will make a nest there. The cactus can also offer shade and total coverage depending on the shape and size which is another benefit to the rat.

Even if the rat makes its home outside, there are still potential problems that can occur. For example, the pack rat can have up to five babies in a litter and can reproduce every few months.  Pack rats are the carriers of many diseases, making a multitude of them very dangerous. Hiring a professional exterminator right away can help prevent more rats from damaging your house.

The pack rat nest is not your typical nest that a bird would make. It is more similar to a beavers damn. A pack rats nest can be up to four feet long at times and can become dense and heavy. If there are no cacti around, a pack rat will make its nest anywhere on the ground.  Pack rats and their nests prove to be very problematic if detected near one’s home. Read on blog about all the problems and damage that can occur from pack rats.

With all the potential problems that these rats can create it is best to call your local pest control company that can handle the proper removal of the rodents. Of course there are home remedies, but getting rid of pack rats can be tricky. Although home remedies for removing pack rats are not recommended for home owners, there are some easy preventative measures you can take around the house to try an avoid initial infestation of pack rats. Some tips for pack rat prevention are posted on our blog.

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Rats: Pack Rats Nests are Nasty

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

A “pack rat” kind of person is a person who holds onto everything and never throws things away. The real pack rats are similar to humans, but they actually steal what people have in their homes and use what ever it is to help them build their nest. Anything from cactus, branches, toys, garbage or what ever else a pack rat can get its claws on becomes material for the nest.

Like thieves, pack rats like shiny objects. If a rat was on its way to the nest with a material and saw something shiny, the rat would drop the original object to get the shiny object and would come back for what the original object at a later time. Generally, people discover they have pack rats by the bite marks the rats leave when tearing away household possessions. Some small objects that the rat can carry completely disappear. Imagine all the random stuff a pack rat uses to build its nest!

When a pack rat builds a nest outside it’s a completely different story. Most of the items they use to make the nest come from the wilderness, including items such as animal feces. Also, many times the nest will be built with in or close to cacti. Not only do the rats use cacti for food and protection but they also use it as a home front. Here’s a perfect example of what it would look like if you have a desert landscape.

rats pack rat nest

This is a pack rat nest, made within some cacti.

The unfortunate part about having a nest on or near your home is that the nest can become home to other animals.  Kissing bugs, also known as Mexican bed bugs, can habitate the pack rat nest. The kissing bug is harmful because its bite is seriously dangerous and painful; some people say it is worse than being bitten by a scorpion. Although the kissing bug is known for shacking up in the pack rats nest, more insects are sure to follow like mice, spiders, ticks, snakes, fleas or lice. These pack rat nests are definitely a home owner’s worst nightmare, especially if they are inside the home. Not only is their nest a nasty place to live, but the pack rat spreads diseases. Read more about the diseases pack rats carry on our blog posting.

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Rats: Pack Rats and the Diseases They Carry

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The nests of the pack rat may sound bad enough, but like the roof rat this rodent can carry many diseases. Various types of rats often carry the same diseases, therefore all necessary measures need to be taken in order to prevent exposure to these horrific diseases. Here are some common diseases a pack rat carries:

  • Rat bite fever: most frequent in Asia, can take up to two weeks before symptoms develop, symptoms include fevers and inflammation, penicillin is used for treatment.
  • Arena virus: transmitted through the air where feces and urine are present, flu like symptoms that can turn into internal bleeding,  see a doctor if exposed.
  • Hanta virus: airborne virus, flu like symptoms that do not occur very quickly and last about a week, continued illness can be fatal, see a doctor if exposed.
  • Trichinosis: carried by rats, symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, see a doctor immediately if you experience headache and chills.
  • Bubonic plague: a skin infection that can be treated with antibiotics, symptoms include red marks on skin that turn black, heaving breathing, aching, and throwing up blood, see a doctor immediately if exposed.
  • Weil’s disease: transmitted through urine, often carried on contaminated food, flu like symptoms, can cause jaundice and vomiting, see a doctor right away.
  • Typhoid: transmitted through feces and urine, either airborne or from contaminated food, symptoms include high fevers, sweats, diarrhea and rash of red spots, treated with antibiotics,  see a doctor if exposed.

Pack rats can also carry different bacteria like salmonella and parasites. Similar to the roof rat, the pack rat does not always have to actually bite a person to transmit the disease. The droppings of the pack rat can be a carrier as well as insects like fleas, ticks, or mites that live on pack rats. Therefore the infiltration of pack rats in a home can be very harmful.

Camel spider myths

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Not only can people not figure out what a camel spider is upon seeing it, they also don’t know what to believe about it. There are many rumors and myths about camel spiders. Some have been around as long as the camel spider. While others were started in the early 1990’s during the Gulf War. While troops were stationed in the desert they came across the camel spider, and many crazy stories came from them about the camel spider. None have ever been proven true, and some are obvious exaggerations of the camel spider’s natural being. Here are some of the most known myths of camel spiders:

  • They have been named the camel spider because they feed on camels.
  • They eat camel’s stomachs, and eat the whole thing becoming the size of the camel’s stomach.
  • They feed on living flesh, and eat the flesh while people are sleeping.
  • They are venomous, and their venom is actually an anesthetic.
  • They lay eggs inside stomachs of camels.
  • Can jump up to 4 feet in the air.
  • Can run as fast as a moving vehicle, up to 25 miles per hour.
  • They chase people.
  • While they run, which they do, they scream.

Some of these myths are partly true, but have been exaggerated and or taken out of context. For instance the one about screaming while they run, camels spider’s leg make a noise when they run. Hence the screaming sound is actually their leg noise, and has been exaggerated into this crazy myth.

Camel Spider… or is it a Wind Scorpion?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Camel spiders are not just known as camel spiders; in fact this spider is also known as a sun spider, sun scorpion and a wind scorpion. Scorpion? I know right, the more crazy fact is that it isn’t even a spider. It is a Solpugae, which is an order of Arachnida. So this in between creature looks similar to both a scorpion and a spider, and scares people just as much as a scorpion or a spider does.

spiders scorpions camel spider

This camel spider was found in New Mexico.

The camel spider is a brown tone and appears to be on the hairy side. They average around 3 to maybe 5 inches, but can be much smaller. Like spiders they have 8 legs, but one pair is smaller than the rest as it is used to help them run. They also have pedipalps, which are similar to the antennae on insects. One differentiating thing about their pedipalps is that they look like really long legs, rather then something sticking off their head. They are used to help find food, capture food, and move around; they even can make a slight sound as the camel spider is moving.

The camel spider is a desert pest, although it can be found as far North as Canada. In the Southwest the camel spider loves the warm weather, as it does for any other desert locations. The camel spider prefers the heat and dry air, and is timid of the cold. While in the desert terrain they often stay underground, unless it is to come out and get food. This usually happens during the night time, as they rest underground or at least in the shade during the day. They will leave the burrows in the summer more often. Summer time is usually when homeowners actually start to notice them.

When a homeowner sees a camel spider they usually freak out, because they can’t decipher what it actually is. Since it has legs that look like a spider and a weird body that could be anything people assume that it is a scary desert vermin. It does look creepy and scary, but the camel spider is actually not as bad as you’d think. It can bite a person, but that is a rare occurrence, but it does not have any poison in it. Although many people have a hard time believing it when they hear one of the many names it can be called like wind scorpion. Learn about all of the camel spider myths people believe in.

spider scorpion camel spider

Here is a camel spider that got caught on a sticky trap at an office in North Scottsdale, AZ.

Not having any poison in them is actually a somewhat bad thing for the camel spider. Without poison it can not attack its prey in that manner. Rather, the camel spiders have to be more aggressive hunters. They will stalk their prey and then attack. Some of the camel spiders many legs are very helpful during hunting and feeding time. The bottoms of them are sticky, so they help trap the prey and also help keep the food in place while devouring it. Another bizarre thing they do when eating is that they will literally stuff themselves, to the point where their bellies are so full they don’t move for some time. The camel spiders eat different kinds of insects, beetles, small lizards, and even scorpions.

In any case this creature is not very harmful and is more afraid of you than you are of it. To keep them from getting in your home, have a pest company treat your home for other insects and vermin. In most cases it will make its home near where its food is living.

Picture by Dolor Ipsum from Picture from Arizona resident Jenna.

Killer Bees, tips on what to do and what not to do

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

There are some basic things to keep in mind if you happen to have a run in with killer bees. Some of these steps are more of preventative methods to do at your home, in order to keep killer bees from invading. Also some of these steps can be used in everyday instances to keep from attracting killer bees. Here are some steps to keep in mind when dealing with a bee problem:

  • Check around your house to see if there are any bees coming in and out of cracks in your walls. If there are call a professional exterminator, if there aren’t have the cracks sealed in order to prevent bees coming into the crack in the future.
  • Check all vent opening and even chimneys for bees. If they are present call your local pest control service. Otherwise make sure there are no openings, and screens are sealed or added.
  • Check other objects around your property to ensure no bees are getting too comfortable. Check out our blog post on where killer bees can be located.
  • Never try to solve the problem yourself. Bees can be disturbed very easily, and if you try to get rid of them yourself there is a huge risk of being attacked. Please call your local pest control service company.
  • Due to the fact that killer bees can be disturbed by minuscule things like vibrations, be more alert when using a lawn mower, blower, hedge trimmers, or any other electrical device that makes vibrations and or loud noises.
  • Keep kids and pets inside when doing these types of outdoor activities in case killer bees do get set off by the yard work.
  • Wear lighter toned colors when outside. Either if you’re in your backyard, running errands, or on a hike.
  • Keep in mind your location and surroundings. If you were to be attacked where is the safest place to run to? For more about what to do if stung read our killer bee sting first aid blog.

Here is a short list of some easy things not to do if you have a run in with killer bees; or to prevent bees from attacking:

  • Try to avoid wearing citrus or floral scents, like perfumes, lotions, or after shave.
  • If near flowers or a garden and see bees, do not panic. Bees are only harmful when something threatens them. In most cases they are getting pollen which is very helpful.
  • Do not keep your pets penned or tethered near potential bee hive spots. See our blog on where killer bees are located for a full list.
  • Do not jump in a pool to avoid killer bees; they will just wait for you!
  • Never ever try to remove a bee hive without professional help, call your local pest control service to come and remove any hives that you find.

Bees: Killer bee stings first aid

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

If you get stung by a killer bee the first thing to do is stay calm, well at least as calm as you can. There are a couple scenarios that you could be in. First, if there are still bees trying to sting you take cover. Try to block your head and run to a safe place. If you are near your home or car, run there as fast as you can. If there is a pool near by do not run and jump into it. Killer bees like water and will just wait for you to come up for air, take cover in a structure not a body of water. If you are outside and there is nothing near you just keep running, it may take some time but it is your best option. There is a chance you can out run the bees. Do not by any mean drop and play dead, you will just be attacked. The other situation you could find yourself in is maybe camping, as this recreation seems to be a frequent place of bee attacks. Run into your tent, cabin, trailer or car as fast as you can. Once you have made it to a safe location here are the next steps:

  • Do you know if you’re allergic to bee stings? If you are unsure these are the symptoms you will feel itching, body rash, burning, body swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea, shock, weakness or becoming unconscious. Hopefully you are not alone and someone can take you to your doctor or the local ER.
  • After finding where the sting is you notice you have more than one take a quick count. If you have over a dozen go to your doctor or the local ER.
  • Now that you know where the sting is keep it under the area of your heart as best as you can. So if it is on your hand keep it towards the ground and do no put it upwards, above your heart.
  • When looking at the sting is the stinger still in your skin? If not that’s great. Unfortunately if it is still in your skin the venom could still be in the stinger. Do not use tweezers or do not squeeze the sting this could cause the venom to go into the sting wound.
  • Take the stinger out by using your finger nail, a credit card or even a knife; push it out of the wound.
  • Once the wound is stinger free get a cold compress and apply it to help with the swelling and the pain.
  • There could be some itching, it does not mean you are allergic, but keep it in mind. The itching should go away after a few hours. If it is continuing still go to your doctor or local ER.
  • If you are stung a few times repeat for each sting wound.