Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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Living Las Vegas: Annoying pests roaming among us

They’re creepy, crawling and living in your neighborhood! A common misconception about Las Vegas is that bugs, insects and pests aren’t as bad here as other parts of the United States. So we don’t have bird-size mosquitoes like Alaska or the monstrous rodents roaming New York, but Las Vegas has its share of annoying pests. Last week, Sun reporter J. Patrick Coolican reported about a bedbug problem at an extended-stay apartment complex. As fall approaches, followed by winter, you may want weatherize your property by sealing cracks or door gaps as some of these creatures may be looking for warmer shelter:

    • Scorpion


      Related to spiders, mites and ticks, scorpions are eight-legged venomous arachnids. Their sting will cause an unpleasant reaction that can include nausea, numbness, vomiting, breathing difficulties or convulsions. Although there has not been any reported fatality in the United States from a scorpion sting, experts believe it can be life threatening. Scorpions’ life span can be many years and getting rid of them takes time, even with a professional exterminating service. When temperatures cool, these creatures seek warmer environments and may try to enter your home. Sealing all cracks in your house, especially around light fixtures, light switches and baseboards will help prevent this.

    • Cockroaches
      /AP Photo/Robert E. Klein


      There are four common types of cockroaches in the valley: the large dark American cockroach, also known as a water bug or palmetto bug; the Australian, a smaller version of its American cousin; the Oriental, often called a black beetle, is a reddish-brown or black; and the German, which is smallest and has two black streaks on its back.

      Found in nearly every part of the world, cockroaches are among the most primitive living insects. Ranging in length from 0.1 to 3.2 inches, they can fly and swim (even underwater), can go without food for a long time and rest in one spot without moving for several hours a day. These omnivorous insects only feed at night and will consume just about anything. They have three body parts: The thorax is the middle section with six legs and two wings; the abdomen is the largest part, with several overlapping sections or plates that look like body armor; and the head is dominated by long antennae that are constantly moving and sensing the environment. Their mouths have jaws that move from side to side instead of up and down, allowing them to bite, chew, lick or lap up their food. Unusual parts in their mouth called palpi allow them to taste something without having to eat it and can prevent death when humans try to poison them.

    • Red Fire Ants
      /AP Photo/Texas A&M University


      The No. 1 pest problem in the country, ants can enter a home through the tiniest cracks, and control can be difficult. They can nest anywhere in and around your house, even under cement foundations. Ants leave an invisible chemical trail that contains pheromones for others to follow once they’ve located a food source. Colonies usually number 300,000 to 500,000 and can move quickly when threatened. Watch out for fire ants. They can cause a serious, painful sting and some people can have an allergic reaction.

    • Black Widow
      /AP Photo/Robin Loznak


      Some spider bites are quite harmful. Although there are many spiders in the area, three in particular are common and may be shocking to people who have never lived in Las Vegas.

      • As its name indicates, the brown recluse spider hides inside the darkest and smallest places it can find, making it a threat in your home. Usually brown, its body shows a peculiar dark brown violin-shaped spot; the legs are light brown and the oval-shaped abdomen is dark brown, yellow or greenish yellow. It has three pairs of eyes instead of spiders’ usual four. The recluse has no interest in humans and will only bite when being threatened or accidentally touched. According to the Mayo Clinic, its bite produces a mild stinging, followed by local redness and intense pain, usually within eight hours. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to leave a deep, enlarging ulcer. Reactions from a bite vary from a mild fever and rash to nausea and listlessness. On rare occasions death results, more often in children.

      • Black widows are easy to spot by the physical characteristics, especially a female with a red hourglass mark on its black belly. Although serious, their bite is rarely lethal. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Treatment may require an antivenin medication.

      • Camel spiders, also known as wind scorpions or sun spiders, are neither spiders nor scorpions and have no venom. They have aggressive behavior, may attack for no reason, can run up to 10 mph and have large jaws that can produce an irregularly large bite. Antibiotic treatment is necessary if the wound becomes infected.

    • Elm Root Borer Beatle
      /Courtesy of Arizona Pest Control

      Elm root borer

      Native to the Southwest and northern Mexico, the elm root borer is one of the largest beetles in North America. Resembling a large cockroach, mature borer beetles can grow six to eight inches. The flying insects are brown or black, have long antennae and spines on the thorax, which form a collar around the neck. Adult beetles come out in the summer time, usually at dusk. Treatment of an infestation is difficult since the insect’s preferred food is the tree root and may not be noticeable for a long time. By the time damage is visible, it is usually beyond repair.

    • Bee attack
      Photo by Richard Brian


      Africanized honeybees, known as “killer bees,” are well established in Nevada. The Africanized bee is a hybrid of African and European honeybee subspecies, and neither is native to the Americas. Africanized honeybees will nest in many places where people may inadvertently disturb them and prompt an attack. They sting in large numbers and will chase their target up to a quarter-mile.

    • Mormon crickets
      Photo by Steve Marcus


      Both an indoor and outdoor pest, crickets are about 3/4 to 7/8 inches long and yellow brown or straw colored with three dark bands across the top of the head. Although harmless, they reproduce quickly and make loud, high-pitched sounds at night. These sounds are produced when male crickets rub their forewings together to attract females. Research has shown that female crickets are capable of discerning which cricket is larger through these noises.

    • Mice Mouse
      /AP Photo/Mike Groll


      House mice, deer mice and white-footed mice are some of the most common mouse pests in the United States. Mice are members of the rodent family and are usually smaller than rats, weighing 11 to 22 grams. Known as excellent climbers, they are usually grayish brown, and some species have white markings. They have poor vision and are colorblind, but their other senses are keen, especially hearing. Rodents are known carriers of deadly diseases such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. According to the Centers for Disease Control, humans can contract the disease when they come into contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. HPS was first recognized in 1993 and has since been identified throughout the United States. Although rare, the disease is potentially deadly. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing infection.

    • Cicada
      /AP Photo/Al Goldis


      Although harmless, cicadas produce an annoying buzzing sound during the summer. The male cicada vibrates two membranes on his abdomen, just behind his wings, creating rapid clicking sounds when the temperature suits it. Almost the entire cicada’s body acts as an amplifier. There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world, and many are unclassified. Apache cicadas are native to the Las Vegas Valley and much of the Southwest. They live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, then emerge for a two-month adulthood.

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