termites on wood

A Guide To Common Pest Identification In Tucson, AZ

Do you think you’ve got a problem pest, rodent, or wildlife around your house? Our handy pest library is a great guide to help you identify what may be bugging your Tucson area property, and the problems those pests can cause.

Ants

close up of ants on dirt

Ants are social insects, meaning they live and work together in large groups – makes controlling and eliminating these pests difficult and frustrating. Ants are most problematic on properties that offer easy access to food and water close to their nesting sites. Ants nest in a variety of places, including lawns, parks, fields, wooded areas, golf courses, and other outdoor spaces. They forage for food in our trash cans, recycling bins, outdoor eating areas, and garden areas. When living outside close to our homes, it is only a matter of time until these household invaders move indoors to search for food or a safe place to build a satellite nest.

You can identify ants by their three distinct body regions (head, thorax, and abdomen) and two bent antennae; reproductive members (fertile males and queens) have wings. Depending on the specific species, ants range in size and color, but are usually black, brown, red, or yellow. Many species of ants, such as odorous house ants and harvester ants, are nuisance pests, and pose no significant risks to people or property. However, some species carry and transmit things like salmonella, streptococcus, and more, which pose health risks to people. Other species of ants, such as fire ants, are problematic because they are extremely aggressive and will deliver painful bites or venom-filled stings to any person or animal they view as a threat.

Ant prevention tips: Keep invading ants out by sealing gaps your home's foundation, exterior walls, and spaces around the utilities entering into your home. Make sure all exterior doors have door sweeps installed on them and that all window and door screens are intact. Remove standing water from your property. Create a stone barrier between any mulch or soil and your home's foundation. Make sure your outdoor trash cans and compost bins have tight-fitting lids on them, and store both off the ground and away from the exterior walls of your home.

Rodents

rat on a branch

Pack rats, house mice, roof rats, and kangaroo rats are all examples of rodent species that live throughout our region. They and other species of rodents have come to rely on people for some of their food and shelter needs. Those rodents that live near us can be dangerous, annoying, and unwelcome pests, but rodents that live outside and away from people cause us no harm and are an essential part of the eco-system, acting as prey for a wide variety of predators.

What attracts rodents most to our outdoor spaces is access to food. Rodents feed on a variety of things like fruits, grains, seeds, vegetables, and sometimes insects. Our gardens, compost piles, pet's food, and trash cans are places where rodents often forage for food. Rodents are active throughout the entire year and do not hibernate. Unfortunately, this means they can become a problem on any property at any time. They often get into homes while foraging for more food, moving inside through any small crack, hole, or crevice they discover. Keeping rodents out is important, because they contaminate food and surfaces with bacteria and pathogens, cause structural damage, destroy personal property, and as they travel, leave behind trails of urine and excrement.

Rodent prevention tips: Limit their access to food on your property by keeping locking lids on trash cans and compost bins. Remove bird feeders from your yard and pick up your pet's uneaten food every evening. Use a caulking gun to seal cracks in the foundation, exterior walls, roofline, and place door sweeps on exterior doors. Use expanding foam to seal spaces around utilities entering your house. Eliminate hiding spots on your property by getting rid of overgrown vegetation, fallen trees, leaf piles, and rock piles. Get rid of areas of standing water on your property that they can use as a water source.

Scorpions

a scorpion on gravel

Scorpions are a type of arachnid, and are easy for most to identify. They have four pairs of legs, a pair of pincers, and a long segmented tail with a stinger at the end. Two of the most common species of scorpions living in our area are the bark scorpion and the Arizona giant hairy scorpion. The bark scorpion is considered the most dangerous species living in the United States because of their potent venom. The Arizona giant hairy scorpion is the largest species of scorpion living in the United States. Both of these species are capable of delivering painful, venom-filled stings.

Scorpions are predators, but despite being excellent hunters, they have poor vision; to hunt, they rely on touch and vibrations. They help to control the populations of nuisance pests that they feed on, such as insects, spiders, other scorpions, mice, and small lizards. Scorpions tend to be excellent climbers and live outside in damp, dark areas like behind tree bark, and under things like rocks, logs, fallen trees, woodpiles, and mulch in garden areas. Scorpions have high moisture needs, and areas of standing water attract them. Properties with leaky hoses, dripping pipes, clogged gutters, and other areas of standing water are attractive to scorpions. Unfortunately, these pests don't just stay outside; they often find their way into homes and other buildings while hunting for food, or if the weather becomes too hot and dry. Inside, scorpions hide in humid areas of our homes like basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Scorpion prevention tips: Keep scorpions out of your home by sealing gaps in the foundation or exterior walls, placing door sweeps on all exterior doors, and replacing any damaged window or door screens. Get rid of fallen trees, logs, leaf piles, excess woodpiles, and other debris from your property where scorpions can hide. Eliminate areas of standing water from your yard. Inside your home, repair any leaky pipes, ventilate your crawl space, and use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce the humidity levels in your home. Reduce hiding spots by keeping, closets, basements, and other storage areas free of clutter.

Spiders

close up of a spider on tile

Spiders are predators that feed on insects and other spiders. Like other animal species, spiders live wherever there is an abundance of their favorite food. Our yards, gardens, trees, and, unfortunately, even our homes are where many insects live; therefore, these are the same places where you'll find spiders. Not only are spiders annoying to deal with in large numbers, some species, like the brown recluse and black widow, are dangerous, and when a dangerous spider bites someone, their venom strong enough to pose health problems.

Species of spiders that live throughout our area include camel spiders, wolf spiders, brown recluse spiders, and black widow spiders. Spiders are a type of arachnid, and while not all arachnids are spiders, all spiders are arachnids. Arachnids all share some similar physical characteristics; adults have eight legs, two body segments, and are wingless. Arachnids also lack antennae. Spiders prefer to create their webs or burrows outdoors, but they often find their way inside while following their prey or searching for a mate. They'll also sometimes move indoors to lay their eggs. Spiders live inside dark, quiet areas of structures like closets, cabinets, attics, and basements.

Spider prevention tips: Eliminate entry points into your house by using a caulking gun to seal cracks in the foundation, exterior walls, roofline, and spaces around utilities. Fix loose or torn screens. Cut tree branches, landscaping, and tall grasses back away from the exterior of your home. Remove fallen trees, excess woodpiles, and other debris from your property where spiders and their prey can hide. Inside your home, keep storage areas free of clutter to limit their ability to hide.

Stinging Insects

a wasp on its nest

Stinging insects are eco-important, as many help to pollinate crops and plants, and predatory species help to control populations of nuisance insects. However, having a stinging insect colony build their nest in your yard or on your home can be a recipe for disaster, especially for those people allergic to their venom. As their name describes, stinging insects have a stinger that extends off the end of their abdomen, which is filled with venom. They sting their prey to paralyze them, and when they feel threatened, they will deliver painful stings. Those allergic to their venom can have severe reactions that require immediate medical attention. Species of stinging insects that are common in our area are wasps, yellow jackets, mud daubers, bees, and hornets.

Keeping stinging insects from building a nest on your property is a difficult task. They are outdoor pests and will take advantage of any food, water, or areas of shelter they discover. Stinging insects feed on a variety of things, including nectar, proteins, other insects, and honeydew produced by garden pests. Our yards often offer them plenty of places to forage for food, such as gardens, flowering landscaping plants, open trash, and outdoor eating areas. Our yards also provide plenty of nesting spots. Depending on whether they are ground or aerial nesters, stinging insects place their nests in a variety of locations, including tree branches, tree cavities, bushes, on utility poles, under roof eaves, in doorways, and inside ground holes. Sometimes they will take advantage of an opening in structures to build a nest in the chimney, the attic, a wall void, or on open beams.

Stinging insect prevention tips: Keep shrubs, bushes, and tree branches trimmed back from the exterior of your house. Limit the amount of flowering vegetation planted close to the outside of your home. Keep tight-fitting lids on trash cans, compost bins, and recycling bins. After eating outside, quickly clean the area and take leftovers inside. Keep stinging insects out of your home by placing covers over vents and chimney openings. Seal up cracks in the foundation, exterior walls, and roofline of your house.

Termites

termites on wood

Termites cause over five billion dollars in damages to properties every year due to their appetite for wood. They are a type of insect that has the unique ability to consume cellulose, thanks to specialized protozoa that is in their digestive system. The protozoa break down the wood into usable products that the termite is then able to digest. This ability to consume wood makes them helpful when living outside away from people, helping to breakdown decaying pieces of wood and plant materials. However, their unique feeding habits are not beneficial when they decide to nest near our properties and start to feed on our wooden structures. When this happens, they become dangerous and destructive.

In our area of the country, we have three species of termites: subterranean termites, dampwood termites, and drywood termites. Their descriptive names tell you something about each species. Subterranean termites create their large nests under the ground and travel back and forth from their nest to a food source each day. They prefer to feed on wood previously damaged by water and are common invaders of homes and other structures. Dampwood termites have very high moisture needs and prefer to feed on wood with excessive water damage. These termites prefer to be outside feeding on things like fallen trees, logs, tree stumps, and wooden fences. Drywood termites feed on dry or sound wood, and they live within the piece of wood they are feeding on. Drywood termites often find their way into homes inside wooden furniture, wooden antiques, doors, support beams, picture frames, flooring, and attic framing.

Termite prevention tips: Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce humidity levels in your home. Ventilate crawl spaces. Place weatherstripping around windows and doors and keep gutters free of debris to prevent water from seeping into your home's walls and roof. Repair any leaky pipes and remove any water-damaged wood from your property. Leave a barrier between any soil or mulch and your home's foundation. Seal up cracks or other openings that develop in the foundation of your home. Remove old or decaying fencing, excess woodpiles, and piles of other organic debris from your property. Before bringing wooden furniture, building materials, or antiques into your home, inspect them for termite damage.

To learn more about pests and how to protect your home from their damaging feeding habits, reach out to the service specialists at Peach Pest Co. and schedule pest control services today!

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