Category Archives: Health Related Pest Problems

Health Related Pest Problems

When it comes to widow spiders, Brown is the new Black.

A recent survey of widow spiders in Southern California led by retired UC Riverside entomologist Richard Vetter revealed new information about their distribution in California.  Currently brown widows are 20 times more common then black widows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, RivBrownWidowJim300x200verside and San Bernardino counties, at least in and around urban homes.  Experts believe they may eventually move up the coast of California and into the Central Valley.

Unlike black widows, Brown widows aren’t found in dry habitats or agricultural areas; they love urban environments and structures.  Preferred web building sites include; empty containers such as buckets and flower pots, mail boxes, entry way corners, under eaves, storage closets and garages, recessed hand grips of plastic garbage cans, undercarriages of vehicles that are stationary for long periods and the undersides of outdoor furniture and wrought iron railings.  They choose places that are more exposed than sites chosen by black widows putting them at higher risk for biting opportunities.

Drop per drop, brown widow spider venom is as toxic as othBrown Widow Spider and egg sacer widow spider species but it appears that these spiders do not have the ability to inject as much venom as the black widow or others of the widow species.  Bites occur mostly through accidental contact and the pressing of the spider against skin.  Symptoms of this widow’s bite include a red mark at the bite site and some localized pain.  The bite is not usually life threatening, and is considered less serious than a black widow’s.  This doesn’t mean that more serious reactions can’t happen, especially if a child is involved.  You can always call your physician just to be safe.

Differences between Brown and Black Widows:

  • The color of the brown widow spider is tan to brown or gray vs. stark black.
  • The egg sac of a brown widow has tiny spikes all over the surface; a black widow’s egg sac is smooth.
  • Brown widows produce more eggs and offspring than black widows.
  • A brown widow’s bite is usually less severe than a black widow bite as they tend to inject less venom.
  • Brown widows live in open areas whereas black widows hide in dark corners and crevices.

 

Where have all the fleas come from?

Dog and cat flea picture.docPet owners, here in Southern California, are itching to find the answer to the question, “Where have all the fleas come from?”

Even with the many flea prevention products on the market today, fleas are again, emerging as a major pest and the reason seems to be drought related.

Feral animals that would normally live in the hills, canyons and scrub country, are being driven, by the lack of water, food and shelter, in their normal habitats, into urban areas where these life sustaining necessities are plentiful.  Coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums and especially rats and mice are dropping off their fleas as they set up residence in or just pass through our yards, parks and green belts.  Almost all warm blooded animals have a flea that prefers it over other hosts. For example, rats are bringing with them not only the rat flea but the sticktight flea which is not normally found on domestic cats and dogs but will feast on them nonetheless.

Yes, the itching and scratching is annoying and frequent scratching and biting by an animal can cause hair loss and anemia, in extreme cases, but the dangers of disease from these tiny critters is terrifying.  Fleas carry and transmit plague, hantavirus, murine typus, tapeworms, and other nasty viruses and bacteria.  One bright light in this gloomy saga is that, according to the CDC, fleas do not carry or transmit HIV/Aids. http://search.cdc.gov/search?query=Transmission+and+fleas&utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=cdc-main

What can be done to protect our pets and our homes from these bloodsucking insects?  A lot!   If you are already using a topical flea treatment on your pets and are still having flea issues, talk to your veterinarian, about switching products.  Topical and internal products do not stop fleas from being in your yard or where you walk your dog or where your cat roams, so fleas can still hop on and take a ride right into your house.  Consider treating your yard on a regular basis and remove anything that provides harborage for rats or other feral animals.  Here is a link to help you be as flea free as possible: www.corkyspest.com/fleas/index.html

Let us know how you are doing in the fight against fleas and what is working best for you.