Scorpion Anti-venin

In June of last year Marcie Edmonds got stung by a scorpion and ended up in the emergency room at Chandler Regional Medical Center with an $83,000 bill and a $25,000 deductible. I’ve heard good things about Chandler Regional but this is not one of them. It was the anti-venin that cost so much. According to Marcie, the emergency doctor had not told her about the cost or alternative treatments.

It’s been my experience that most healthy adults get over the discomfort of a scorpion sting in just a few days. The discomfort can vary from mild to quite uncomfortable. Some adults experience severe symptoms far greater that just discomfort. The risk for severe illness is usually to small children, the sick and elderly.

If you have had a recent experience at an emergency room for a scorpion sting please submit your comments so we can better understand what is going on regarding this relatively new situation.

My advice to those of you who have the responsibility of caring for children, sick and/or elderly is not to wait until you are in the emergency room to find out and decide what to do. First have a verified poison control number handy. They have a well-deserved reputation for being very helpful. Second, check with your insurance company to see how much you would end up out of pocket for this expensive emergency. Then talk to your doctor to help prepare you as to what to do in case of such a future emergency.

Flying Bee Swarms in Queen Creek, AZ

Although the news media keeps saying that bees are dying and we have a shortage off them here and in Europe, we had a lot of rain just before the spring and this told us in the pest control industry that bees would likely get busy this spring and summer. And so it is. A new customer just moved into their home bordering a golf course in Queen Creek, Arizona, two or three weeks ago. She told me that her husband had been golfing with a couple of friends and they had ‘hit the dirt’ when a swarm of bees flew toward and past them. She explained that this had been the third swarm they had seen since moving in. During the last three weeks? That’s as many flying swarms as I’ve seen in almost 20 years!

I explained why her husband and his golfing buddies need not have been afraid. Homeless bees like this don’t have brood to protect and are very confrontation-averse. It’s rare that they become so extremely stressed out or captive that they attack. Years ago as I was checking a swarm trap, a bee swarm arrived flying all around me, attracted to the trap. I could see how the loud buzzing of these thousands of bees would scare people. Now you know better. Just don’t swat at them or panic and in almost all cases you’ll be fine.

As to why my new customer and her husband had seen three swarms in as many weeks, it could well be explained that bees follow geographic features like rivers, dry riverbeds and their look-a-likes which include man-made features like golf courses. That’s how the Africanized bees moved north from South America, from city to city, from Tucson to Phoenix.

Cockroaches

Pest control service for cockroaches in the East Valley, PhoenixSince I’ve been in this business for over 19 years, experience has familiarized me to expect an increase in calls in May when temperatures approach 100 degrees. Many of these calls are because people are seeing cockroaches. Most of them are from potential new customers and, dare I say it, from existing customers. What’s happening here?

These cockroaches are usually the American cockroach. Long story short, cockroaches are often named after a country. It’s not clear why but probably because many decades ago it was considered, not scientifically, the country of origin.

Here in the East Valley in Arizona when temperatures climb up, small sources of water dry up and the cockroaches that relied on them, die. Not so with the American cockroach. He’s big and flies readily and relatively far. When he’s thirsty that’s what he does and does a good job getting around. And lucky us, we get the phone call.

I’ll ask the caller if they are already using a pest service and are otherwise satisfied with it. If so, I explain the above and how their problem is temporary. Often they will be relieved and stay with their ‘bug guy’. I explain the residual pesticide their licensed, professional service technician is using will do its work and in just a few days these traveling cockroaches will be exterminated.

On the other hand, as is commonly the case (after all, that’s why they’re calling us instead of talking to their ‘bug guy’), this caller is generally not satisfied with their bug service, I explain the above and make the appointment.

Giant Mosquitoes?

I’ve been getting calls lately about mosquitoes that are the biggest they’ve ever seen . . .

Several people have called and asked me about what to do for mosquitoes.  I listen and reply that although we can provide a specialized service for these flying insects, that most likely, the source of their problem is a sitting body of stagnating water, possibly nearby. At some point they tell me that these mosquitoes are the biggest they’ve ever seen and I remind myself that it’s spring time in Arizona.

What they’re seeing isn’t mosquitoes at all but actually CRANE flies. They’re a harmless nuisance and seasonal. They start appearing around the end of March and are gone within a couple of months. They don’t fly well and commonly you’ll find them bouncing around the front and back patio ceilings, waiting for the cooler evenings to fly around.

The adults usually don’t eat. If they do it’s flower nectar and depends on the species. As I said they don’t fly very well; so if you have a lot of these and want to get rid of them for some event, like visitors or a party, you could use a vacuum cleaner with an extension. A fly swatter will work too.

Don’t be surprised if the next day there’s a bunch more flying around. Before they turn into flying adults, the larvae grow in moist environments, feeding off of decomposing vegetation like leave litter, etc. You could try picking up vegetation around your property and around the common areas of your neighborhood but it seems to me even the best maintained neighborhoods have them. Most likely the egg laying females must have a ‘nose’ for moist decomposing vegetation; just enough of which must survive our very hot, dry summers.

So even though these “Giant Mosquitoes” look like they might be dangerous, they don’t sting or bite. They’re just a seasonal nuisance.

Bedbugs

For awhile there it looked like bedbugs were gone for good but now they’re back with a vengeance. So here’s some good news to soften the worry.

The problem is becoming more manageable and affordable. Unless you have a severe, long-term infestation, you probably won’t have to buy new furniture or even a new mattress. No need to panic or die from embarrassment anymore. Or take out a second mortgage. Remember years ago the big scare of the ‘killer bees’ that were going to annihilate humanity? Well, we’re still here.

It’s an expensive service because it is more difficult to do. However, it’s rewarding enough that more pest control companies are offering this service. This, of course, is driving the price down. More companies, means less waiting and a cheaper price for the service. Good old American capitalism at work.

Historically, bedbugs have not been found to be a vector to transmit disease. Of course this is very good news because too often we hear about mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects sucking up a disease from a sick person or animal and giving it to someone else, spreading disease and misery far and wide. How the bedbug isn’t a vector is very interesting to some scientists who are trying to understand this and apply it to help humanity. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade, no?

We now have better and safer pesticides, growth regulators, heat machines, special vacuum cleaners, detection products, traps and more. And we have the knowledge and experience to use them.

Don’t panic and be so embarrassed that you can’t think straight and grab the first big name pest control company that you see advertised and can schedule you yesterday. Take a deep breath and take a little time to do your due diligence and get at least three estimates or quotes. A good place to start is asking your good friends and family, one of whom almost surely can recommend a good bedbug control guy.

Scorpions

scorpion pest control in Phoenix, East ValleyA common way they enter your home is through the bottom of the hinged doors to the outside. Often that’s the front door and the door to the garage. So if you are having scorpion problems inside your home, one of the first things to check is the condition of the weather-stripping on the bottom of these hinged doors. This can be done at night with your spouse or a friend. Turn off as many lights as you can and have the other person shine a flash-light slowly and repeatedly along the bottom of the closed hinged door while you carefully observe for any light ‘leaking’ through, thereby identifying the small openings in the weather-stripping that would allow a small, thin bark scorpion to crawl through. Because scorpions have a special way of flattening their legs down, the space necessary for a small one to crawl through is deceptively smaller than one would think.

It is these small bark scorpions that have the powerful nerve-toxin. The sting of some of the larger species like the Desert Hairy are not venomous to humans. However the less venomous and larger species are frequently too big to fit under the available openings in a home unless they are in the juvenile stage when they are difficult to distinguish from their venomous cousins. So, either way, when you find them in your home, it is best to assume they are venomous and proceed accordingly.
You shouldn’t rely on door- or window-screens to keep them out of doors or windows left open. These screens are not usually tight-fitting enough and scorpions, attracted by the cool moist air, can flatten themselves down and slip in through the small openings.