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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?

 

 

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How To Know If The Swarming Insects In Your Texas Home Are Ants Or Termites

How To Know If The Swarming Insects In Your Texas Home Are Ants Or Termites

We are well into the spring season, and summer is just around the corner, which means that the insect swarms occurring around residential and urban areas of Texas will only continue to increase in frequency. The two most common groups of insect pests in Texas homes during the spring and early summer seasons are ants and termites, and both have been swarming into indoor areas for the past several months in the state. However, swarms emerge at different times in Texas depending on region. The frequent bouts of rainfall have also been making termite and ant swarms more frequent lately, especially in south Texas.

In south Texas, subterranean termite swarms begin to emerge as early as January and February, while the panhandle typically sees swarms emerge during the months of April and May. Subterranean termites swarmers (alates) emerge from existing colonies in order to start new colonies, but most alates die before finding a mate. When subterranean termites swarm indoors, they will most certainly fail to establish a new colony, as these termites must initiate new colonies within soil. In rare cases, indoor subterranean termite swarmers (alates) access soil by exiting through a window. Although indoor termite alates cannot contribute to the spread of termites within a structure, these swarms often indicate that active colonies may already exist in the vicinity.

Swarming ants may be a nuisance, but most winged species do not emerge from colonies that are destructive to homes or buildings, and therefore, swarming ants can usually be dismissed as harmless. Carpenter ants can infest wood, but the damage they cause to structural wood is not nearly as extensive as termite damage. This is because carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not feed on wood; instead, carpenter ants merely bore nesting galleries into structural wood sources. That being said, carpenter ant swarms can be just as dramatic as subterranean termite swarms. Since subterranean termite and carpenter ant swarms occur within homes and buildings at the same time of year in Texas, it is important for residents to properly differentiate between winged termite alates and winged carpenter ants.

Winged subterranean termite alates possess two sets of equal sized wings, while winged ant swarmers possess hind wings that are larger in size than the anterior set. A narrow midsection is a feature common to all winged ants that clearly differentiate them from subterranean termite alates. While 14 carpenter ant species have been documented in Texas, the C. rasilis species is the most common carpenter ant swarmer that emerges within homes in the state. Swarmers of this species can be recognized by their quarter inch long and reddish-black bodies.

Do you believe that you can discern between a carpenter ant swarm and a subterranean termite swarm?

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Hairy Trapdoor Spiders Appear Around Texas Homes After Bouts Of Rain, And They Are Commonly Found In Pool Filters

Spiders of all shapes and sizes are abundant within the state of Texas, and the vast majority do not inflict medically significant bites to humans. Most experts agree that only two spider species within the United States produce venom that can cause serious medical issues, and possibly death. These spiders include the brown recluse (L. reclusa) and the black widow (L. mactans) species, both of which can be found in Texas. However, there exists other spider species that can inflict bites that may lead to serious medical conditions, such as tissue necrosis, but such cases are very rare.

According to officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife agency, Texas is home to 900 documented spider species, but according to one scientific survey, at least 1,084 spider species have been documented in Texas. In any case, spiders in Texas are plentiful, and many are large, hairy, and generally look terrifying to a great number of people. Unfortunately, for arachnophobes living in Texas, large spiders often gravitate onto properties, and sometimes into homes in the state. For example, trapdoor spiders often appear in residential areas of Texas, particularly within the dry southwestern region of the state. These spiders are often mistaken for tarantulas due to their large size and hairy exterior. And much like most tarantulas, bites from trapdoor spiders are reported as being painful, but harmless. Residents of southwest Texas can expect to find trapdoor spiders crawling around their home after bouts of rainfall, and oddly enough, these spiders are often found within pool filters.

Trapdoor spiders of the southwest dwell within burrows that can be as deep as ten feet and around one inch in width. These burrows become flooded during bouts of rainfall, prompting the spiders to evacuate their burrow and wander into residential areas. It is not uncommon for residents to find a trapdoor spider at the bottom of their pool or within the pool’s filters. Although trapdoor spiders found within these odd locations may seem dead, they usually begin moving again before eventually crawling away after they are fished out of pools.

Have you ever found a spider of any sort within a swimming pool?

 

 

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Massive Insect Invasions

Massive Insect Invasions Bring Bugs Into Restaurants Just As Often As They Bring Bugs Into Homes In Texas

Texas is home to numerous insect pest species of all kinds. Some are nuisance pests, like swarming crickets and Asian lady beetles, while some pose a public health threat, like mosquitoes and Africanized honey bees, and some insects in the state fit both categories. Homes in all regions of Texas can become infested with an array of different insects and spiders all year round. For example, last year saw numerous homes in San Antonio become infested with scorpions. The scorpions were bark scorpions, which are the most dangerous scorpions in North America, as their venom can be lethal without antivenom treatment. This mass invasion of scorpions into homes occured due to the intense heat and excessive dryness that plagued the southwest region of the state for a long period of time. Although scorpions are built to withstand harsh conditions, they need to cool off indoors every now and then. What is alarming is how often restaurants in the state become infested with nuisance insects, or worse, disease-spreading insects. Since restaurants contain a variety of foods that attract insects and several large objects that can provide shelter for bugs, it should not be a surprise to learn that restaurants are more vulnerable to arthropod infestations than homes are, especially when it comes to cockroach infestations.

Every summer, the city of Austin is inundated with cricket swarms, and one new resident, Erica Waksmunski of Texas learned this the hard way during her visit to a drive-through Whataburger. Upon pulling into the eatery’s parking lot, she noticed what looked like moving concrete. After receiving her food at the drive-through, Erica found several crickets on her bag of food, both her and the employed screamed in response, and she then understood what had been making that crackling sound beneath her tires. The Texas Health Department often shuts down restaurants after finding insect pests during walkthroughs. Not long ago, a popular donut shop named “Ken’s Donuts” was forced to shut down for two days after an insect pest infestation was found in the establishment on several occasions. In most cases, the insects that infest restaurants are cockroaches, which have been known carry disease-causing bacteria on their bodies due to their habit of basking in fecal matter and other found conditions. So the next time you visit your favorite restaurant, you may want to check its pest control history.

Have you ever found insects within fast food that you had ordered?

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Asian Lady Beetles Frequently Invade Texas Cities Where They Often Enter Buildings And Homes

Ladybugs are one of the most beloved insects, as even those who fear creepy-crawlies don’t seem to mind handling them with their bare hands. Despite their approachable appearance, several ladybug species in the United States are not native to the country, and many species are considered nuisance pests. The most significant ladybug pest is the Asian lady beetle. Although Asian lady beetles are hardly discernible from common ladybug species, they do not cause the same degree of nuisance infestations within homes. Texas did not see major Asian lady beetle invasions into homes and buildings on a mass scale until the 1990’s when their populations seemed to explode in the state and the rest of the country. In recent years, Texas residents have found themselves perplexed by the sudden appearance of the insects within their home during the winter season when insect infestations are not expected to occur in houses.

Although Asian lady beetles were not known for infesting homes until recent decades, one Austin resident and business owner, Cooper Anderson, recalls seeing the insects pour out of the vents of his rural home as a child. In response to the bizarre sight, Anderson’s father told his son that the insects were brought to Texas from a foreign land in order to allow them to prey on crop-damaging aphids. As it happens, Anderson’s father was correct, as the insects have proven effective at saving crops from large-scale aphid damage since the species was introduced into the country as a biological pest control agent many decades ago. This is why Asian lady beetles have long been an insect pest to homes in agricultural regions of the state where Anderson lived as a child. Today, however, Anderson claims that the lady beetles often infest his urban home and even his car.

Asian lady beetles are abundant outdoors during the summer season, but they move into homes once winter approaches in order to find warm shelter. Once spring arrives, the lady beetles emerge from their hiding places in homes where they are often treated as a nuisance by homeowners. While the spring season sees the greatest degree of lady beetle pest activity in Texas homes, the relatively warm climate in many areas of the state can cause infestation problems for homeowners during the winter when the insects scramble into homes.

Have you ever witness a large mass of ladybugs either indoors or outdoors?