Wasp stings are a serious threat to public health due to a large number of people having an allergic reaction to them. Allergic reactions account for roughly a quarter-million emergency room visits each year. Unfortunately, of those allergic reactions approximately 100 people die annually. Contrary to belief, wasps are not necessarily aggressive unless their colony is threatened. When the colony is threatened a coordinated assault is launched on the perceived predator. When this happens, the release of alarm pheromones is released attracting other colony defenders to the intruder. One of the more aggressive stinging insects is the yellow jacket. People that are allergic to them should be especially careful from August through October when the yellow jacket numbers peak due to looking for food sources to take back to the developing queens. Just like wasps, they don’t attack unless threatened.
There are about 55 species of cockroaches found in the United States and fortunately, only six species are typically found in Arkansas. These six species are the German cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, the American cockroach, the smokybrown cockroach, the oriental cockroach, and woods cockroaches. They have a lifespan of six months to 18 months leaving very little time for them to hibernate. That’s why when the temperatures start to go down, cockroaches tend to show up. The largest roach species found in Arkansas is the American cockroach. Although these guys can tolerate cold weather and some can even live in below-freezing temperatures for a short time, they prefer to stay warm. What better place to find that perfect 70-degree environment than in your home?
Have you noticed an increase in spiders during September? Although you may notice them more, there are not necessarily suddenly more spiders, just more sightings. Most spiders live for just one year. They hatch from eggs in the spring, grow and mature during the warmer months, reach maturity in summer or fall and seek mates to reproduce. The reason for more sightings is that the males are looking for female mates. After mating, the females lay eggs in an egg sac and most of the mature spiders die. The cycle resumes in the spring when the eggs hatch. This is the general cycle of spiders, of course, some species and occurrences can deviate a bit, but overall this is how a spider’s life cycle goes.
Photo credit: Bedbugs.org
Bed bugs could possibly rank up there with one of my worst nightmares. I’m typically not squeamish when it comes to bugs. Of course, I don’t want them taking up residence in my home, but when I see them it doesn’t make me want to burn my house down and completely lose my mind like my daughter does when it comes to spiders. However, there is something about those tiny bed bugs makes me come close to going crazy. I think it’s because they are small and hard to spot. Their flat bodies are about the size of an apple seed. They don’t fly but are quick movers. Even worse, female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs, which are the size of a speck of dust. One bright side is that they aren’t believed to transmit diseases.
Fire ants have been around in Arkansas since about the 1950s, but my most vivid memory of them wasn’t until I lived in Pensacola, Florida. Those little devils are everywhere down there. It is not a matter of if they will show up in your yard but rather when. Fire ants entered the United States through the port in Mobile, Alabama in the 1930s, so it only makes sense that they are so bad in the south.1 In Arkansas and Oklahoma fire ants are predominantly in the southern portions, but they are active in some parts of the River Valley. Fire ants are indicated by red in the above map. They are commonly named fire ants due to their ability to inflict painful stings.
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