Category Archives: Scorpions

Watch Your Step for Scorpions Frightening Pest may be Southwest’s Public Enemy No. 1

Arizona_Bark_ScorpionOne of the most infamous of pests, the scorpion is one of the most difficult to eliminate. They spend most of their time tucked away in cracks or crevices and are even found in children’s sand boxes. Although scorpions are not aggressive hunters, their sting can be quite painful – and in the case of one species found in the U.S., it can sometimes be fatal. The most venomous scorpion in North America, Centriroides exilicauda, is commonly referred to as the Arizona bark scorpion. As one of the smaller species of scorpion, an adult male can grow up to eight centimeters long, yellow to yellow-brown in color, with a long slender tail. It is found throughout the desert Southwest including Arizona (where it was first discovered in Tempe in 1927), western New Mexico, northern Mexico, and the west bank of the Colorado River in California.

Altogether, more than 30 species of scorpions are found in the southern and western United States, including scorpions common to New Mexicans such as the striped scorpion and the Desert Hairy scorpion. While these non-threatening species can inflict a painful sting, serums are available to relieve the more severe symptoms.
Because scorpions normally move about on the tips of their eight legs, with their bodies seldom touching the surface, they are among the most difficult of pests to control,. As a result, many pesticides are not as effective, since most common pesticides depend on physical contact with the animal’s body. One effective way to eliminate them is to remove their food supply, but it can take time for that approach to work.

Scorpions feed on insects, so effective scorpion control is dependent on a more complete pest control program. Since they can survive for weeks without food, and will resort to cannibalism when there is no other source, one of the most effective ways to eliminate scorpions is to physically remove them, one by one, usually at night when they are active. Fortunately, their bodies glow under a black light, so they are relatively easy to spot in the dark.

By the time you see scorpions in the open, you probably already have a serious infestation. For that reason, homeowners should be alert to more subtle signs of scorpions, which can include the sudden, unexplained disappearance of other insects, or finding insect body parts piled neatly in remote corners.
Most of all, be advised that scorpions are sedentary and prefer the most humid available locations. Being aware of areas conducive to a scorpion infestation is also important in preventing them from getting comfortable. Such areas include:

  • Under Garbage cans

  • Organic matter in and around gardens and plant pots

  • Under and around rock beds

  • Untrimmed palm trees, since the fronds collect moisture and other insects

  • Old lumber or bricks

  • Decaying debris such as leaves or bark

  • Stored boxes

  • Water meter / irrigation boxes

  • Wall voids and conduits

  • Insect infested areas such as attics

About Scott Svenheim and Truly Nolen

Scott Svenheim, an expert for Truly Nolen of America and Associate Certified Entomologist, has 27 years of experience in the pest control industry. Scott brings an informative as well as unique and entertaining perspective to consumers’ pest problems in the 21st century. Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and 55 countries. For more information, please visit www.trulynolen.com.

More Bugs: The Unwelcome Impact of Climate Change

What does the ever-changing weather patterns have to do with pest control? Quite a bit, actually. As northern parts of the country are experiencing extremely low temperatures, and other areas are oddly warmer than usual, the change in our typical seasonal patterns raises a red flag for changes in pest activity.

Irregular changes in the weather, such as spikes in cold temperatures, have the potential to significantly diminish a pest predator’s population, affecting the balance of the ecosystem and allowing pests to thrive and flourish as they take advantage and adapt without anyone to threaten their livelihood. As the populations of predators decrease, pests are able to recuperate from the weather change significantly quicker.

The impact of climate change on insects and humans is far reaching – forest and food crops could be affected and diseases spread by insects could have a wider range. Nature has a delicate balance and it doesn’t take much – a slight temperature variation, or even a movement in the course of a river – to cause changes that move throughout an ecosystem.

Since mosquitoes are the most common carriers of malaria and yellow fever, dramatic increases in these diseases would be likely. Moreover, both the National Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization report that current treatments for malaria and yellow fever are becoming less effective, leading to the potential for plague-like levels of these diseases, unlike anything seen since the U.S. Civil War.

Pests like the cockroach, bed bug, scorpion and mosquito are among the most adaptable and successful life forms on earth. For example, cockroaches are among the oldest living creatures. They survived the Ice Age, and are believed to have persisted for more than 350 million years. With that record of success, we can be sure they will adapt and thrive in changing climate patterns.

Bed bugs have been around since the 11th century and have learned to live and adapt as humans do while acclimating and adjusting to the warmer and milder climates, creating a new page in their pest evolution. In the southern part of the country, these nomadic pests have caused infestations to rise exponentially, threatening vacationers’ favorite sunny spots and bringing home with them unwanted house guests.

We know that there is a strong, direct relationship between the level of insect populations and fluctuating temperatures. As variations in the seasons become more evident, predictions for pest activity in 2013 reflect similarly to what we’ve seen in 2012. And since 2012 was one of the hottest years on record, what we can expect in 2013 is a continuation of abnormal pest activity.

How to prevent a scorpion infestation

In the past month, many residents in Las Vegas, Nevada, noticed small scorpions in their homes, specifically in beds, shoes, garages and near pets’ water bowls. Local ABC affiliate KSNV-TV reported that the number of the pests has increased over the past year, along with reports of sightings in and near homes. Although the creatures can be common in deserts, they are also found in many environments across the world.

When scorpions appear
Spring and fall are the mating seasons for scorpions, at which point they may be more frequently seen. The bark scorpion, which has been spotted the most as of late, is considered life threatening, although reports of stings far outweigh fatalities. While this species is native to Arizona, California and New Mexico, the FDA notes that their numbers have been increasing in Clark County, Nevada. Bark scorpions most often grow to be a little more than an inch long, but can grow to over three inches. To discover whether or not there is an infestation, the Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum suggests waiting until nightfall and shining a black light into dark spaces and across floors and ceilings. Under a black light, their exoskeletons will have a distinct glow. 

Children under five are at risk for more serious sting side effects, which the Mayo Clinic notes as including severe pain, convulsions, drooling, sweating and occasionally inconsolable crying. They are more likely to require intensive treatment. After being stung, adults frequently experience rapid breathing, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle twitching, and weakness, according to the healthcare provider. If the stung victim is an adolescent or younger, or elderly, of a low body weight or is experiencing high levels of pain, he or she is recommended to see a doctor, regardless of symptoms. Scorpions also sting pets, so if they are exhibiting strange behavior that might be indicative of a sting, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. 

Preventative measures
Reduce the likelihood of the dangerous pest by eliminating standing water as much as possible and by sealing potential entryways. The most commonly stung areas on the body are hands and feet, so it’s best to be aware of those extremities when making the bed, putting on shoes and reaching for items. Closets, cabinets and other enclosed spaces ought to be inspected frequently in areas where scorpions are common (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California). Scorpions typically hide during the day and travel at night, so inspections should be conducted after sunset with a black light if possible.

Keeping the area surrounding a home free of brush, firewood and debris will help keep the pests away. The aforementioned should be kept at a distance of 30 feet or more. Most species like to hide under rocks and other things outside, and under clothes and shoes indoors. Leaks from pipes, humidifiers or air conditioners should be repaired as soon as possible, since scorpions are attracted to warm, wet places. It is also advisable to contact an exterminator to handle the infestation rather then attempting to exterminate the scorpions independently. 

Scorpions, spiders heading into homes

Texas homeowners are dealing with some unpleasant guests, as they feel the effects of a blistering, dry summer.

The number of scorpions and spiders has drastically increased in Texas this summer. Because they are cold-blooded creatures, they develop quickly in hot, arid conditions. That makes the state's weather this summer the perfect environment for the pests to breed rapidly.

In order to cool off from the extreme heat, many of them are making their way into local homes, frightening residents.

Scorpions often like to hide in cluttered areas or bushes. One Texan told east Texas-area NBC affiliate KTEK that he found a severe infestation of scorpions in a pile of boxes and in his garbage can. He needed to seek medical treatment after being stung by one of the pests.

Scorpions are nocturnal, and like to hide in small spaces. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that residents shake out clothing and shoes before putting them on to reduce the risk of a potentially dangerous scorpion sting. If stung, victims should remain calm and seek medical attention to ensure the venom will not cause a deadly reaction.

Besides scorpions, the heat is also driving more dangerous brown recluse spiders indoors. The brown recluse can have a deadly bite, but it is often mistaken for a common house spider, CNN reported.

These small pests are about the size of a quarter and have a dark spot on their otherwise tan bodies. They can be difficult to spot in homes, as they like to hide. Like scorpions, these spiders like to take shelter in cluttered areas, boxes, closets and dark corners.

Brown recluse spider bites initially do not cause any pain. Typically, within several hours the bite swells, becomes red and is extremely sensitive. Most bites heal on their own from this point, but in some instances, the bite can be much more dangerous.

In some victims, the venom will break down skin cells near the site of the bite. This eventually progresses into a lesion that requires immediate attention from a medical professional, according to CNN. Death from a brown recluse spider bite is rare, but can occur in anyone allergic to the spider's venom. Jim Fredericks, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association, told CNN it's best to get a brown recluse bite checked out to make sure an allergic reaction will not occur.

Since brown recluse spiders are small, it can be difficult to implement pest control measures to keep them out of a home. Making sure screens are intact and eliminating clutter are some ways of preventing a spider or scorpion invasion.

A local pest control expert told KTEK that pest problems can also be avoided by making sure the spiders don't have easy access to a home. Therefore, firewood should be stored away from the house, and bushes and shrubs should not be too close to windows.

A spider or scorpion infestation can be dangerous and calls for help from professional exterminators who can evaluate the situation and recommend the best form of treatment.