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Here’s how you can handle pests in Arizona this summer

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A host of “pests” manage to survive the heat of Arizona and may cause trouble in your neighborhood.

Here are the type of pests and how you can handle them.


Mosquitoes

Although Arizona is a desert, water-loving mosquitoes can thrive here and spread diseases to humans. Among mosquito-borne illnesses are the West Nile virus, encephalitis and dengue fever.  Here are some precautions:

• Drain bird baths, pet water bowls and animal watering troughs at least weekly.

• Repair water leaks, sprinkler systems or other devices that lead to ponding of water.

• Remove vegetation and floating debris on ponds and stagnant swimming pools.

• You can add mosquito-eating fish to ponds. The fish are available free from the Maricopa County Vector Control office.

• Fill in low spots in your yard and drain buckets and other containers that might collect water.

• In a housing community with ponds – like a golf course subdivision – ask about how and when standing water is treated for mosquitoes. It only takes 24 to 48 hours for larvae to mature and adult mosquitoes to emerge.

• Check your window screens for tears and gaps.

• Turn on air conditioning and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the evenings and at night. Make sure children stay covered. Even lightweight clothing can deter mosquitoes.

• Use DEET mosquito repellent that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Follow directions carefully, especially if you want to put repellent on a child. DEET should not be used on babies less than two months old.

Scorpions

Summer can definitely be bark scorpion season in Arizona. So here are tips on keeping those critters from turning your yard and house into their yard and house.

• Scorpions may have moved into your yard when their territory was disrupted by construction, say the experts at the University of Arizona. They can also hitch a ride in loads of rocks or gravel or in the box for that new tree you planted. So inspect any boxes or tools that you use for traveling critters.

• Scorpions hang out in stacks of earthen pots or in saucers under plant containers as well as piles of firewood, boards, branches, and stacks of rocks or bricks. They also thrive in dried-out palm tree fronds. So clean those outdoor nesting areas soon. Always wear tough leather gloves for the job.

• Scorpions can easily squeeze into your house through teeny little openings. So put new weather stripping around doors and windows. Caulk around roof eaves and any pipes in your walls that create gaps or cracks. Clean off bottoms of outdoor furniture and barbecue grills.

• Trim tree branches and heavy brush hanging around the sides of your house. Scorpions can use that foliage to get into walls or on your roof.

• Scorpions are more likely to scuttle around outside at night in summer when they go out to eat insects and spiders. That’s when you can use an ultraviolet black light to make scorpions glow in the dark; then you can spot them and destroy them.

• Most adults who are stung will probably recover quickly. But children and older family members need medical help as soon as possible.

• If you happen to find a scorpion in your house or yard, it’s time to call an exterminator.

Snakes

Snakes of all kinds, including diamondbacks (not the baseball team), can be prevalent in populated areas in Arizona. They’re not all poisonous, but some are and unless you’re an expert on reptiles, you want to be cautious.

They’re particularly likely to be seen in spring and summer in housing areas on the fringes of undeveloped land. They’re less of a threat in winter when they hibernate. Some precautions to take around home and yard:

• If you are working in your yard around thick bushes and shrubs, wear long loose pants and high top boots in case you run into a snake.

• Try to keep small rodents out of your yard since they tend to attract rattlesnakes who feed on them. Keep trash cans closed with tight lids and don’t leave pet food outside. If birds nest in and around your yard, they can also attract snakes.

• Don’t let dogs or other pets go out unaccompanied into your yard during snake season.

• If your yard has wrought iron fencing with openings, you can buy screening covered with mesh hardware cloth to fasten between fence posts. You can also cover the drain holes in block wall fencing. Snake fencing is particularly important in yards that back up to a wash.

• Keep your garage door closed as much as possible so snakes don’t enter accidentally. That’s likely in fall when they’re looking for hibernation sports. Check to be sure that the bumper strip on the bottom of the garage door fits tightly against the concrete. Snakes can slither through the most improbable tiny openings.

• If you’re bitten, get emergency medical attention as soon as possible.

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