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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Unwanted Pests

By Benjamin Eugene

Everyone loves playing hostess and opening the doors to their home to guests from time to time, especially in the summer. However, there are certain guests that appear in Baja and try desperately to invade your yard and home no matter how many times you try to deter their arrival. These unwanted summer visitors come in the forms of spiders, mosquitoes, scorpions, snakes and other things that sneak around waiting for a chance to slink their way into your homestead.

Spiders, especially the black widow and the brown recluse, tend to give almost everyone the heebie-jeebies. The black widow is the most venomous spider in North America. Its venom actually measures as 15 times more toxic than rattlesnake venom. Luckily, it rarely injects the venom when it bites. This means most bites merely result in muscle cramps, spasms, and pain in the area of the bite. If bit, you should wash the area with soap and water to prevent infection. While there is an anti-venom available, it is rarely needed. The brown recluse is a bit more vicious. The bite is a necrotic type that leads to tissue damage. A bite can cause chills, fever, nausea, blisters, muscle pain and flu-like symptoms. With a brown recluse bite, infection is the main concern. The bite area can turn into an open sore that can take up to 45 days to heal.

Mosquitoes are perhaps the most common and most annoying pest in the summer. They are attracted to sweat, body odor, heat, light and just about everything else you find in the summer. The females are the biters. They fill up on blood and leave an itchy welt behind. Washing the site with soap and water is really all that is needed. However, mosquitoes have been known to cause a miserable disease or two. In Baja, it may by rare, but possible to contract dengue fever from a mosquito. The symptoms of dengue fever include headache, fever, pain and exhaustion.

A disturbing, yet common site, in Baja is the scorpion. The bark scorpion is about three inches long and lives above ground. It only needs a sixteenth of an inch crack to enter your home. If bit, you could experience muscle twitches, numbness, difficulty breathing and convulsions. While many people experience only mild symptoms, there are those who are allergic to the bite of a scorpion and need antivenin to treat it.

Snakes, especially rattlesnakes, are a common pest in Baja also. They are known for their distinctive rattle that can be heard before they are even seen. If bitten, it is best to immobilize the area, wash with soap and water and seek medical attention. Common practices of the past are no longer recommended for snake bites. They include no longer using a tourniquet or applying ice to the bite.

There are a few simple tips to avoiding unwanted run-ins with any of these critters. They include:
  • Keep trash picked up
  • Trim grass and shrubs
  • Avoid wood piles next to house, and standing water
  • Wear gloves when doing yard work
  • Fill in cracks and holes in walls
  • Check shoes and gloves before wearing
  • Repair window screens
  • Remove spider webs
  • And keep your eyes open for the pests