Whether you’re a seasoned Arizonian or a first-time visitor, the diverse ecosystem of the Grand Canyon State could leave you with more than just memories. The next time you find yourself muttering, “Ouch, what bit me?” refer to this helpful guide to identify the culprit, and what you should do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
What Bit Me? Biting Insects in Arizona
Arizona is home to several species of ants, including the invasive Red Fire Ant. Fire ant stings can be extremely painful and result in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Other ants will bite if disturbed, or if they feel you are threatening their nest, and can usually be felt as small pinches at the time of being bitten.
Bed bugs, though not exclusive to Arizona, are a common issue in homes and hotels. Their bites often appear as small, red, itchy bumps, usually in a line or cluster. Some people do not react to the bites at all, making detection difficult. However, their notorious habit of biting during the night and leaving tiny blood spots on sheets is a telltale sign of their presence.
Centipedes, especially the Arizona Giant Desert Centipede, are nocturnal creatures. Their bites are characterized by two puncture wounds that quickly become painful, with the pain often described as similar to a bee sting, but stronger. The area around the bite may swell and become red, and in rare cases, symptoms such as fever, chills, and weakness can occur.
These tiny creatures are usually brought into homes by pets. Flea bites are small, red, and itchy, and often appear in clusters or lines. You may feel them jumping on your skin, and any pets you have in the home will be itching and scratching, too.
Also known as triatomine bugs, these insects transmit Chagas disease, though infection is very rare. The bite itself is often painless, but a red bump or group of bumps may appear on the skin and cause severe itching.
Although Arizona is generally dry, mosquitoes can breed in any standing water, so try not to leave water around the outside of your home. If you have to (for example, for drinking water for animals), consider adding a small air pump with an airstone designed for ponds and aquariums as the bubbles will disturb the surface of the water, preventing the mosquitos from breeding. Mosquitoes are especially active around dawn and dusk and their bites appear as itchy, red bumps on the skin.
Arizona is home to multiple scorpion species, but the most dangerous is the Arizona Bark Scorpion. Scorpion stings are sharp and sudden. The sting site may be sensitive to touch and tingle, akin to a mild electric shock. Some individuals may experience severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, restlessness, or erratic eye movements, which require immediate medical attention.
Arizona is home to a wide variety of spiders, but the most notable from a biting perspective are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. A bite from a Black Widow may feel like a pinprick, if felt at all, followed by dull muscle pain that can spread to the rest of the body. The Brown Recluse’s bite is often painless initially, but after a few hours, it can lead to a blister surrounded by a red, swollen, and painful area. Both of these bites should be treated by a medical professional to ensure symptoms do not advance.
While these large spiders can bite, they usually do their best to avoid confrontation and will only bite if scared. A tarantula bite can cause discomfort, similar to a bee sting, but usually isn’t a major concern. If you develop any strange symptoms or are worried, go to see a medical professional to ensure your bite is nothing to worry about.
These parasites are found in wooded and grassy areas in some parts of AZ. They attach to the skin to feed on blood and can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A tick bite is usually painless, but the area might become red, swollen, or develop a rash. You’ll usually notice if you’ve been bitten by a tick as they’ll stay on your skin for hours before being full enough to fall off, so they’re unlikely to have the opportunity to do so before you find them.
Wasps are prevalent in Arizona, including the Paper Wasp and Yellow Jacket. A wasp sting typically results in instant, sharp pain, and a raised welt around the sting area. There might be a tiny white mark in the center of the welt where the stinger punctured your skin. Swelling, redness, itching, and heat around the sting site are common.
Remember, while most bug bites or stings result in mild symptoms, severe allergic reactions can occur. Hence, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention if you experience difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat after a bite or sting. Prevention, like wearing appropriate clothing and using insect repellent, remains the best way to avoid these unwelcome souvenirs from Arizona’s diverse insect population.
If you notice these animals around your home, especially in numbers, it’s best to call in a pest control professional to ensure you do not have an infestation that could lead to more frequent run-ins with these creatures. We offer free home inspections, so don’t delay and book your inspection if you are concerned about the insects near your Arizona home.