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Protecting You and Your Family From Common Summer Pests

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Department of Health and Human Services–Prevention and Intervention Services’ Housing Services presented a workshop titled “Protecting You and Your Family from Common Summer Pests” on June 12.

The presentation discussed many types of insects and reptiles that visit us in the summer months.

Bees were the first pests discussed. What attracts bees are the flowers that start blooming during the summer, sugary drinks, and even sweet-smelling perfumes and body lotions.

To prevent bee stings, always be aware of your outdoor surroundings, eliminate any water sources in your yard and wear light colors.

Yellowjackets are common during the summer as well. They prey on insects and can eat pet food that is left outside. They are also attracted to noise vibrations, such as from outdoor worksites.

One prevention technique is to place cucumber slices around pet food bowls, as well as sealing up your garbage cans, and also crumbling up paper bags and hanging them up in corners to resemble another yellowjacket nest. If you plan on drowning yellow jackets, it is recommended you use soapy water.

If you are stung by either bees or yellowjackets and are experiencing breathing problems, seek immediate medical attention.

Other common encounters were discussed, such as the gopher snake (non-venomous), western diamondback rattlesnake (venomous) and the desert night snake (non-venomous). To avoid any snake visitors, keep yards clutter free, keep vegetation trimmed, remove any ground water sources and get rid of pest problems, such as covering up rodent burrows around your home. Sprinkling sulfur powder around the house also helps, or any chemical repellent.

Lizards are harmless and are attracted to flies, crickets and other insects. Cats tends scare them away; you can also spray a solution of Tabasco sauce mixed with water in areas of your yard where lizards are found.

In Arizona, there are more than 25 species of bats. They do not attack people unless provoked. Bats can scratch, bite and can carry rabies in their saliva. They’re attracted to fruit, seeds, small insects, and pollen and hummingbird feeders. If bats are becoming a problem, contact Arizona Game and Fish or the Salt River Police Department’s Animal Control Specialist.

To control mosquitoes and avoid the West Nile virus, get rid of any standing water in your yard, no matter how small the amount. If you prefer natural alternatives, plants like lavender, rosemary, lemon thyme, and sage can potentially repel mosquitoes.

Scorpions are common in the Community. The most common is the bark scorpion, which can live up to six years and grow to 3 inches long. Scorpions are aggressive and can sting when provoked. Although the stings are not life threatening, they do carry venom and can cause sharp pain, panic attacks and muscle aches. Scorpions like to hide in piles of wood, leaves, loose boards and rocks. If you have bug-killer spray, spray it directly onto the scorpion to kill it.

Finally, spiders like to hide in dark areas. Spider bites can go unnoticed for up to an hour or two. The black widow tends to avoid houses, but it can be found in small, dark areas such as closets and outdoor sheds. It’s the most venomous spider in the country; symptoms include pain around the bite area, fever, nausea and, in severe cases, chest pain and respiratory difficulties.

Another common Arizona spider is the wolf spider; these can leave fang marks on your flesh.

To best spider-proof your home, dust and vacuum frequently and clean your yard on a regular basis.