Common Insects and House Pests of Western Arizona


Western Arizona is home to many pests that invade homes and gardens. While some of these pests are capable of causing medical issues and emergencies, others are simply nuisances due to their presence. When trying to fight infestations, consider contacting a professional pest-management company to help you. Some of these pests are nearly impossible to eradicate on your own. For help identifying pests, contact the University of Arizona's Entomology Department or a cooperative extension office.

Indoor Pests

  • Booklice, cockroaches, earwigs, silverfish and house flies are examples of indoor pests. Booklice and silverfish prefer damp environments, so lowering humidity helps eliminate infestations. The dry climate of western Arizona doesn't leave much for these pests, so when they occur it is usually because of water leaks. Sanitization works well to help eliminate cockroach and housefly infestations because these creatures feed on decaying material and left-out food.

    Also, seal your doorways and windows to prevent pests from coming inside. Eliminating lights above doorways helps curb pests. Some pests may enter your home through cracks or voids as well.

Structural Pests

  • Structural pests eat or destroy the structural wood of your home. Carpenter bees, termites, carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles all destroy wood. Carpenter ants prefer wet, soft wood such as on porches, around bathtubs or roof leaks. Western Arizona's arid climate typically results in these ants destroying man-made water-damaged wood. Carpenter bees are solitary bees, and only damage exterior wood. They don't burrow throughout the home's structure, but build a nest hole. Paint exterior wood to help prevent carpenter bees.

    To prevent termites, keep water and plants away from your foundation. They crawl through cracks in your foundation or any hole they find to start a colony in your home. Wood-boring beetles may attack any wood in your home. One species, known as the leadcable borer, is even capable of damaging lead cable coverings, which causes electrical damage.

Medically Significant Pests

  • Most of these species are not life-threatening, but for those with allergies, young or elderly people may need medical attention. Fire ants pose a serious sting; call Arizona Poison Control to report. The more serious red imported fire ant has not established a population in Arizona. The University of Arizona recommends that you assume any wild honeybee swarm is Africanized, commonly known as killer bees. The bees moved into the state in 1993.

    Arizona is also home to venomous spiders such as two relatives of the brown recluse and widows. The brown spiders cause necrotic wounds known as necrotic arachnidism. Their venom, however, is not as dangerous as that of other members of the Loxosceles family. The Arizona species of widow resembles the famous black widow with the red hourglass. Tarantulas live in western Arizona, but are not life-threatening.

    Scorpions also inhabit western Arizona, though only the bark scorpion is medically significant. It is also the scorpion people encounter most inside homes.

Stored Product Pests

  • These pests inhabit your stored foods or other items. Most of these species belong to either the beetle or moth orders. Indian meal moths, for example, eat grains, cereals, dried fruits and meats. Their larvae are small, whitish or yellowish caterpillars that spin cocoons and webs in your stored goods. Several beetles also invade your stored food and include rice weevils, grain beetles, flour beetles and cigarette beetles.

    Always check all your food stuffs after you notice an infestation. Storing your food in air-tight metal, rubber or plastic containers helps prevent additional damage. Sometimes these pests enter your home through birdseed, pet food or similar items.

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