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waco rodent control

How Invasive Webspinners Arrived In Texas, And Why These Insects Are Considered Nuisance Pests

Several invasive insect species have become established in Texas. Some of these species include red-imported fire ants, argentine ants and Formosan subterranean termites. One little known invasive insect species in Texas, Oligotoma nigra, originates from India, and it is considered a nuisance pest in urban and suburban areas of the state due to their attraction to artificial light sources, such as porch lights and street lights. This species is commonly known as the “black webspinner,” and residents will most likely encounter males only, as females are not capable of flight. When these insects are not swarming in large numbers around porch lights they spend most of their time within their underground nests where they remain hidden from humans.

Black webspinners are around .35 of an inch in length with a dark brown to black exterior. While black webspinners are not considered an ecological threat in the US, they do consume nonvascular plants, such as moss and lichen, and they may move into yards in order to feed on dead plant matter. Recent research has revealed that black webspinners also feed on grasses and ornamental plants. Webspinners dwell in below ground nests where colonies construct tunnels coated with silk that the insects produce from specialized organs. Webspinners spend most of their lifespan below the ground in order to avoid predators. These insects have adapted to their underground habitat by developing particularly muscular hind legs that allow them to move backwards rapidly within narrow underground tunnels. Additional adaptations include thin elongated bodies, and males possess oval-shaped wings that allow for unobstructed underground tunnel movement.

There is no way to determine with certainty as to how non-native black webspinners arrived in Texas, but experts believe that this invasive pest species arrived in the state via a shipment of date palms imported from Egypt. Black webspinners are distributed throughout the Southwest, and controlling nuisance swarms around homes is often unnecessary, as most residents in areas where these insects are abundant have become accustomed to waiting out swarms.

Have you ever heard of black webspinner insects before?

 

 

 

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Large Numbers Of Tarantulas Are Invading Residential Areas

When tarantulas are found within homes they are usually being kept as pets, but during the summer season, the southwest United States becomes overrun with swarms of male tarantulas looking for mates. These annual migrations sometimes bring tatrantuals into homes in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Tarantula migrations draw tourists to certain hotspots in the southwest where the arachnids are expected to be found moving in enormous masses numbering into the thousands. Once male tarantulas find a female burrowing within the ground, up to 1,000 eggs are produced, so while tarantulas may be hated by arachnophobes in Texas, the eight-legged critters are not going anywhere.

Tarantula migrations occur all summer, but the largest migrating masses occur during July in north Texas, and thousands are likely traversing through populated residential areas right now in the state. The Mexican redknee tarantula is considered one of the most commonly encountered tarantula species in Texas, and they can sometimes wander into homes. Another common species in the state, the Texas brown tarantula, is notably large in size and particularly heavy, as females often weigh in excess of 3 ounces. Females of this species are docile and prefer to remain in their burrows, but during mating season, which lasts from May until October, females may leave their burrows and make contact with humans.

While tarantulas may be intimidating to look at, they are largely harmless to humans, but those looking to avoid tarantula encounters during mating season in Texas should be mindful around bushes where the spiders are often located, and keeping an eye on city streets is also wise, as hoards of tarantulas regularly travel through urban areas. Tarantulas can inflict venomous bites, but these bites almost never require medical attention, and the stinging sensation caused by tarantula bites are comparable to bee stings. However, some residents cannot stand the sight of tarantulas, and if this should be the case, yards can be treated to prevent tarantulas from invading properties.

Have you ever encountered a tarantula on your property?

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What Proportion Of Brown Recluse Bites Result In Tissue Necrosis, Permanent Scarring And Skin Grafts

Brown recluse spiders pose a threat to public health in all states where the spiders are abundant. Unfortunately, the brown recluse can be found in nearly all areas of Texas, but most reported bite cases occur in the central region. It is well known that the brown recluse, unlike black widows, inflict necrotic bite wounds, and recent research has found that these wounds result from particular compounds in brown recluse venom that cause tissue necrosis. Considering the danger posed by this spider species, it is important for residents of Texas to recognize the specimens when they are encountered.

While black widows are relatively easy to identify on account of their jet black exterior, bulbous abdomen and conspicuous red hourglass design, the brown recluse appears similar to many common household spider species. In fact, researchers have found that people often mistake wolf spiders, the southern house spider, woodlouse hunter spiders and fishing spiders for the brown recluse. The brown recluse can be identified by its three pairs of eyes, which is unusual as most spider species possess four pairs. The brown recluse also has an inverted violin-shaped marking on its dorsal thorax, but upon finding a specimen that you suspect of being a brown recluse, its best not to make an attempt to handle the spider in an effort to locate this marking. Most brown recluse bites occur indoors, while most black widow bites occur outdoors. In rare cases, brown recluse bite wounds may require amputations or skin grafts in order to remove infected skin.

Brown recluse bites are moderately painful, and shortly after sustaining a bite, a red halo forms on the wound. If you ever sustain a brown recluse bite, be hopeful that no other symptoms occur following local pain and redness, as 40 percent of bite victims develop necrotic tissue at the site of the wound. At this point, a bite victim will want to rush to the emergency room as quickly as possible, as infected necrotic tissue spreads rapidly. Permanent scarring occurs in 13 percent of all brown recluse bite cases, in rare cases, a finger amputation or a skin graft become necessary. It is rare for bite victims to develop systemic symptoms following a brown recluse bite, but in rare cases bites will prevent blood from clotting, red blood cells are destroyed and a toxic measles-like rash develops.

Have you ever seen one of these spiders in your home?

 

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Do Brown Recluse Bite Incidents Outnumber Black Widow Bite Incidents In Texas? And Which Species Is More Dangerous Statistically?

Fatalities resulting from black widow bites rarely occur today, but the spiders continue to have a reputation as deadly arachnids. Black widows used to pose a much more significant public health threat to US citizens than they do today, as black widows were commonly feared spiders before the advent of indoor plumbing. Black widows earned their fearsome reputation from the days when they were common within outhouses. Black widows often infested outhouses where they frequently inflicted bites on the most unfortunate of bodily areas. Today, black widow antivenoms are available in cases where patients demonstrate serious envenomation symptoms, but it should be known that children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at the greatest risk of suffering severe symptoms following a black widow bite. While black widow venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, making these spiders the most venomous in the US, the brown recluse spider species is quickly displacing black widows as the most feared spider species. Unfortunately, Texas is home to both the southern black widow and the brown recluse spider species, both of which inflict bites on hundreds of Texas residents each year. Not too long ago, a study was conducted that determined which notoriously dangerous spider species inflicts the greatest number of bites to Texas residents.

Researchers used data collected by Texas poison control centers to determine the number of black widow and brown recluse bites sustained in Texas. Between 1998 and 2002, 760 black widow bites and 1,369 brown recluse bites were reported in Texas. Black widow bites were more common in men, while brown recluse bites were more common in women. Most black widow bites had mild outcomes, while most brown recluse bites had moderate outcomes, and most of these reported bites occurred on the bite victims property. Western Texas saw the greatest number of black widow bites, while brown recluse bites were most common in central Texas. This information is useful for determining which of these two dangerous spider species are most likely to sting you and others living in your home.

Have you ever spotted a brown recluse in your home?

 

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The Large Southern House Spider Can Live Year Round In Texas Homes Where They May Establish A Significant Presence

Experts are in the habit of telling people that spiders are easy-going and misunderstood creatures that rarely bite humans, and when bites do occur, they are considered harmless by entomologists and medical professionals. Of course, such experts will also mention that only an incredibly small amount of spider species are capable of inflicting bites that can be hazardous to human health. In the United States, medical professionals usually refer only to the black widow and the brown recluse as being medically significant spider species. They say this despite the fact that there actually exists three black widow species in the US, all of which are capable of injecting highly toxic, and potentially deadly venom into the human bloodstream. It is also not often mentioned that 13 recluse species can be found in the US, two of which are invasive, and all of which have been documented as inflicting dangerous bites wounds that sometimes result in hospitalizations. However, it cannot be denied that very few spider bite cases result in serious medical consequences, and most people are not likely to encounter the most dangerous spider species within residential homes. Unfortunately, this too, is not entirely accurate, as the common southern house spider has been documented as causing bites that resulted in significant pain and localized swelling that lasted for two days.

Luckily, the southern house spider’s bite is not toxic enough to result in death. In fact, the vast majority of bites inflicted by this species require no medical attention, but their bites are painful, and considering their abundance within homes in Texas and other southern states, sustaining a bite should not be considered an unlikely event. The worst aspect of southern house spiders is not their bite as much as their tendency to establish large populations within homes. One survey of 114 southern house spider sightings reported 94 indoor sightings, while the other 20 sightings occurred within residential yards. Females grow to be around three fourths of an inch in body length, but their long legs make them appear much larger. Males are much smaller and are often mistaken for brown recluse species. In addition to being unpleasant house guests, these spiders can fill homes with numerous webs that can become a nuisance to residents. These spiders are able to fit through extremely narrow cracks in foundation walls, allowing them to establish sizable indoor populations. Sealing these crevices with caulk is an effective method for keeping them from entering homes, but some infestation cases require the services of a pest control professional.

Have you ever sustained a spider bite within an indoor location?

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The Southern Flannel Moth Has Sent Numerous Texas Residents To The Hospital

Numerous venomous caterpillar species can be found in every region of the continental United States. Venomous caterpillars are particularly abundant in the northeast where multiple native and invasive species can be found in residential areas. While the northeast US may see the greatest abundance of venomous caterpillar species within urban and suburban areas, the most dangerous caterpillar species is most prevalent within the south and southeastern regions of the US. This species is commonly known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, and they are responsible for sending numerous residents to the emergency room every year. One of the most recent envenomation cases involving this species occurred in Texas last fall. This incident saw a five year-old girl sustain a serious sting after a specimen fell from a tree and landed on her arm.

The southern flannel moth caterpillar can be found as far north as New Jersey and as far west as central Texas. The stings inflicted by this caterpillar species are extraordinarily painful, and potentially deadly. Unlike many stinging insect species, the southern flannel moth caterpillar inflicts stings via its venomous hair-fibers. These venomous hair fibers become embedded within human skin where they continue to inject venom into the bloodstream. In order to prevent serious injury, southern flannel moth hair fibers must be quickly removed from skin following contact. The five year old girl who fell victim to a southern flannel moth caterpillar sting was lucky enough to have adults nearby who rapidly removed the venomous hair fibers from her skin before serious systemic effects occurred. Luckily, the girl only experienced local pain and swelling and a minor upset stomach, but less fortunate victims can experience seizures, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, abdominal pain and muscle spasms. Several schools in southeastern, central and northern Texas have cancelled classes in response to local southern flannel moth scares.

Have you ever spotted a southern flannel moth within a human-populated area?

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Yellow-Sac Spiders Are One Of The Most Aggressive House Spiders In The World, And They Sometimes Inflict Repeated And Dangerous Bites

Many people hate finding large spiders within their home, and for some particularly arachnophobic individuals, spotting one single indoor specimen warrants the services of a pest control professional. Pest control professionals do not generally consider spiders to be pests that establish indoor infestations, but the presence of a potentially dangerous spider species within homes poses a clear threat to the home’s occupants. Spider species that are considered a danger to residents within homes include black widows and brown recluses, both of which can be found indoors within the state of Texas. If so much as one single specimen from one of these species is found indoors, pest control professionals will make it a priority to inspect an entire home in an effort to locate and destroy each specimen found. These two spiders can also pose a threat to residents when specimens are found near homes, and black widows and brown recluses are commonly found along structural foundations, especially in areas such as beneath leaf-litter, trash piles, outdoor clutter, and patio furniture. Although black widows and brown recluses are the two most frequently cited spiders of medical importance, several yellow-sac spider species can also be a threat to residents. Unfortunately, yellow-sac spiders are capable of surviving all year round within Texas homes.

More than 200 yellow-sac spider species have been documented within the United States and Canada, and all of the most dangerous species are abundant within Texas. Yellow sac spider adults grow to be 1/10 – 1/2 inch long in body length. Although yellow-sac spider species vary in color, they can be recognized for their particularly long front legs. One of the most commonly encountered yellow-sac spider species within homes is the agrarian sac spider, and like many sac spider species, the agrarian sac spider can inflict painful and medically significant bites to humans. Agrarian sac spiders sometimes infest homes in great numbers, and they are often found within bedding, walls, and ceilings during the nighttime hours. Infestations are particularly frequent during the winter months.

Have you ever found a group of spiders clustered together within your home?

 

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Spitting Spiders Live Almost Exclusively Indoors

A great many spider species can be found throughout the large state of Texas, including species of  tarantula, widow spiders, recluse spiders and house spiders. One common genus of spider that is abundant in Texas is known as Scytodes. These spiders are well distributed in tropical areas all over the world as well as in subtropical areas in the southern United States and Europe. Scytodes spiders can also be found in northern US regions, but to survive in these habitats they often need to establish an indoor presence during bouts of harsh weather. In fact, these spiders are even able to maintain habitats in Scandinavia, but only because they have adapted to living within human dwellings.

One of the most commonly encountered Scytodes spider species in the US is Scytodes thoracica. Considering this spider’s natural instinct to enter homes and buildings, it is not surprising that a survey of S. thoracica sightings all occured indoors, and not one single sighting occurred outdoors. Although these spiders do not closely resemble recluse spiders, many people still mistake Scytodes spiders for recluse spiders given the similar eye arrangement of both spider genuses. There exists at least eight other relatively less common Scytodes spiders in the USA, all of which are likely endemic to the southern states. Scytodes spiders are commonly referred to as “spitting spiders”, as these spiders subdue their prey by spitting a substance that causes their bodies to constrict. Unsurprisingly, many homeowners contact pest control professionals in order to have the Scytodes thoracica species eradicated from their home. While this species may be venomous, its fangs are believed to be too small to penetrate human skin, making them harmless to humans. Spitting spiders are solitary and aggressive, which prompts males into slowly approaching females lest they be mistaken for prey and consequently killed. These spiders are a component of indoor ecosystems, and they are preyed upon by domestic house spiders, cats, and pest control efforts on the part of humans to keep their indoor presence minimal. Spitting spiders have a pale yellow exterior and long legs, making them appear relatively large, and they move about houses at night in search of prey. The Scytodes thoracica is most often found within cupboards, cellars, closets and dark corners, and females can live for a period exceeding two years.

Do you believe that you have spotted a spitting spider within your home?

 

 

 

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Is Texas Home To Wood-Boring Beetle Species That Infest And Damage Structural Wood Within Homes?

Unfortunately, the great state of Texas also has a great many wood-boring beetle species that just live to find the wood in your home such as stored wood, wood products, as well as structural timber. These beetles come from at least 12 different families and their size, wood preference, the nature of the damage they cause, among other habits vary greatly between species. Since there are other well known insect pests that also damage wood such as termites and carpenter ants, it is important when you find an infestation of wood-boring beetles that you make sure identify the insect properly, as the kind of damage they cause and their appearance can vary greatly.

The most obvious sign that you have an infestation of wood-boring beetles is if you see holes present in the wood that the adults chewed their way out of. Beetles often produce a powdery material called frass when they are feeding on wood and push it from thee holes they are boring, leaving it in piles below the holes or in cracks in the structure. The consistency of the frass can also vary depending on species. In some cases, you might actually spot an adult wood-boring beetle in your home. They are attracted to lights and windows, and can often be seen accumulating in these locations. You might also noticed a stained or blistering appearance to the wood made from the larvae of the wood-boring beetle tunneling below the surface of the wood.

As I already mentioned, identifying the culprit of your infestation is very important when dealing with getting rid of these invaders. Some of the possible species include the old house borer, flatheaded borers, wharf borers, and bark beetles, just to name a few. Adult wood-boring beetles can range from ⅛ inch to over 2 inches in length. They can also vary greatly in color. While most are dark brown or black in color, others are metallic blue, metallic green, and some are striped yellow or red. Knowing what kind of wood they are damaging will also help to identify the correct wood-boring beetle that is infesting your home.

The best way to keep your home from being infested by these insects is through preventative measures. Before purchasing the wood to construct your house make sure it is properly dried and chemically treated in pressure chambers. Controlling the level of moisture in your house can also go a long way towards preventing an infestation. Making sure leaks are repaired, installing vapor barriers, insulation, dehumidifiers and air conditioners will help to vastly reduce the amount of moist wood and moist environment these pest need to thrive. Store any firewood outside and away from the outer walls, and make sure to inspect any items made of wood you purchase before bringing it into your home.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of wood-borer beetles in your home?

 

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Where In Texas Can The Highly Venomous Striped-Bark Scorpion Species Be Found

Pest control professionals operating in Texas have already reported a higher-than-normal amount of calls concerning scorpion-related pest issues among residents this year, and the summer season has not even started yet. Particularly hot summers tend to see a relatively high amount of indoor scorpion issues, as scorpions tend to gravitate into air-conditioned homes in an effort to find respite from the blazing Texas heat.

Many Texas residents have come to learn that scorpions are not as intimidating as the media often makes them out to be. In fact, of the 18 scorpion species that have been documented within Texas, only one produces venom that is potent enough to result in medical issues. Many desert-dwellers will accurately identify this scorpion species as the “striped-bark scorpion”, and despite this species’ relatively potent venom, its presence near homes can sometimes be dismissed as insignificant. However, it cannot be denied that striped-bark scorpions can pose a threat in some cases due to the species’ willingness to flagrantly invade populated indoor areas.

Striped-bark scorpions are distributed across most of Texas, and this species is encountered by humans more often than any other species in the state, and this includes indoor encounters. The striped-bark scorpion can appear within structures located in the middle of urban centers. For example, one Austin resident claimed that a bark scorpion suddenly appeared within a classroom where he had been taking German language lessons. The scorpion’s appearance in the building surprised him at the time due to the building’s location in the middle of town.

While bark scorpions do possess the most potent venom of all 90 scorpion species that have been documented within the US, they are far from being the largest in body-size. Bark scorpions rarely grow beyond 2.5 inches in length, and most sting incidents result in nothing more than 20 minutes of localized pain. However, those who have an allergy to scorpion venom are likely to experience severe symptoms following a sting from a bark scorpion, and such individuals are likely to go into anaphylactic shock as a result.

Have you ever smashed a scorpion specimen with your foot? If so, did the scorpion make an attempt to evade its violent death?