ST. GEORGE – What’s bothering people in southern Utah this spring? Fortunately, not the Asian giant hornets that have appeared in Washington state. Due to the dry climate, Utah State University arthropod diagnostics specialist Zach Schumm doesn’t expect the Asian giant hornet to establish itself here.
“There are very little concerns about giant Asian hornets all over the state of Utah,” Schumm said.
Asian giant hornets generally do not attack humans unless they feel threatened. What makes them really harmful are their attacks on honey bees. Since honey bees are an important pollinator species in the world, the decimation of this population could harm native crops and plants.
What is potentially harmful to humans are Africanized bees. They buzzed in Utah in 2008. This particular insect is a hybrid between an African bee and a European bee. This hybrid bee can be a bit aggressive, but Schumm said it is not as dangerous as some reports have indicated.
“There are very few reports of African bee attacks,” Schumm said. “They’re not really common compared to the other European bees that we have here in Utah.”
Ticks are one of the annoyances that the people of Utah face every year. While there aren’t many ticks in Utah compared to more humid climates, they can be a problem for people and pets. The most common species found in Utah is the Rocky Mountain wood tick. The western blacklegged tick can also be found here. Western blacklegged ticks are responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, although Schumm said it was a very rare event in Utah.
“While we can find these ticks here, it’s really rare for you to get the disease,” Schumm said.
Tick season occurs when snowmelt begins in the spring and continues until mid-July. Ticks attach themselves through a process called questing. Basically they hang out in bushes like oak and sagebrush. When humans or animals rub against the bushes, ticks attach themselves.
Ticks secrete an anesthetic agent, so the bites are painless. Diseases are transmitted while ticks are feeding, which is why it is important to eliminate them. The Centers for Disease Control advises using fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick from the skin surface. Constant and even pressure is necessary so that the parts of the tick do not come off and remain in the skin. Ticks can be flushed down the toilet or placed in alcohol, then wrapped in duct tape for disposal.
Just like humans, pests want to be indoors, where food and air conditioning are located. Insect sprayers in southern Utah are working hard to eradicate the bugs that appear this time of year. Braydon Bergeson, co-owner of Bug Blasters Pest Control, said all new construction in southern Utah is digging up a lot of bugs. These invaders include ornamental and American cockroaches, spiders, earwigs, crickets, ants and more.
Some residents of southern Utah are struggling with clover mites this spring. These pinhead-sized pests are reddish-brown in color and appear en masse. While clover mites don’t harm humans or homes, Bergeson said they can be a real nuisance.
“Normal treatments usually don’t take care of it,” Bergeson said. “You have to do a specialized treatment with an acaricide.”
No bugs on our cups
Here’s some good news: Residents of southern Utah don’t have to worry about their pets getting fleas. These little buggers prefer cool, damp, shady places. Bergeson said it was one less concern for pet owners.
“Fleas need a certain amount of moisture to reproduce,” Bergeson said. “Because of the dry air in southern Utah and in the desert, we just don’t see these issues here.”
The air in southern Utah can buzz with the sound of insects doing their job, but that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. These tiny insects pollinate plants, recycle nutrients, disperse seeds, and serve as food for other populations. Due to the dry climate, there are not many insects here compared to other parts of the country.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.