The desert Southwest poses a unique challenge for people living there. That’s because there are many unusual creatures they have to contend with daily, and in Tucson, it’s no different.
In this brief article, we’ll show you:
- The five worst pests in Tucson, in order of difficulty
- What the most dangerous wildlife is in the region
- Which insects sting and which ones are harmless
- The difference between bees and wasps
Scorpions are everywhere in Arizona, especially in Tucson. They’re attracted to pine needles and palm leaves, and they also favor water sources around pool equipment and hot tubs.
Scorpions feed primarily on insects such as crickets, beetles, and wasps. However, the Arizona bark scorpion can bring down small lizards as well.
Although rarely fatal, the scorpion’s sting is extremely painful. So, control becomes a priority for Tucson residents, especially those with small children and allergic adults.
#4. Bed Bugs
Bed bug infestations are no longer just for the larger metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard. Due to a spike in international travel, they are becoming an increasing problem for the Southwest as well.
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on human and animal blood. They are primarily active at night when you are sleeping, and their bites cause large welts on the skin.
Although bed bugs don’t transmit diseases, those who suffer from heavy infestations in their homes often report varying degrees of psychological trauma.
#3. Roof Rats
Roof rats in Tucson are a different species than those you come across in the Eastern regions of the U.S. They tend to stay closer to the ground and nest in clumps of bushes.
They are close cousins to the packrat, which makes its home in abandoned vehicles and attic spaces. Since they are nest-builders, they pick up objects such as twigs, sticks, and human-made debris, especially if it appears to be shiny.
Controlling roof rats can be challenging due to their high numbers and ability to reproduce rapidly. They can also create damage to vehicles and attics by chewing through electrical wiring and leaving feces and urine around nesting sites.
#2. Bees and Wasps
Several types of stinging insects invade Tucson neighborhoods, especially during the spring and summer months. The majority of them are harmless, while others can be pretty nasty when provoked. Here are some of the most common examples:
Africanized Honey Bees (AHB)
Africanized bees are similar in appearance to ordinary honeybees. The difference is in their behavior. Africanized bees are much more aggressive and typically build their nests almost anywhere, unlike native honeybees.
Western yellowjackets are a native wasp species that often construct their nests inside wall voids, making them especially difficult to remove.
Yellowjackets are typically more aggressive than other wasp varieties and will often sting a would-be intruder several times repeatedly.
Tarantula Hawk Wasps
Tarantula hawk wasps paralyze desert tarantula spiders and then lay their eggs on top of them. When they hatch, the larvae feed on the still-live tarantula until they grow to adulthood.
While tarantula hawk wasps aren’t easily provoked, you certainly don’t want to get stung by one. This flying pest is described as having one of the most painful stings in the insect world.
#1. Drywood Termites
The western drywood termite is a wood-destroying insect in the Tucson area and extends as far West as California. It destroys sound wood structures by eating cellulose material and utilizing it to construct intricate galleries.
The western species is somewhat larger than its eastern cousin. For that reason, it has the potential to create more damage.
In addition, drywood termites have the ability to reach higher into a structure since it doesn’t require constant contact with the moist soil for its survival.
While termites, in general, are difficult to control, drywood termites pose a special challenge. Since they can locate themselves to any portion of a structure, their identification is all the more difficult.
Worse, for heavy drywood termite infestations, there are instances where only whole-structure fumigation with toxic fumigants will eradicate them.