What do Brown Recluse Spiders, Yellow Fever Mosquitoes and Red Imported Fire Ants have in common? They’re currently active here in San Antonio – and pretty much around the state! We’ve gathered some helpful information – to better help folks recognize these pests and learn how to better avoid a potential sting or bite – in a simple-to-read infographic.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders, certainly not considered a rare insect by any means, have a characteristic dark brown violin marking on their back. These spiders often infest cedar shake roofs and spin irregular webs, which are used as a retreat.
Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors where they are typically found around rocks, utility boxes and woodpiles eating other insects. Indoors, brown recluses can be found in any undisturbed area, such as inside boxes, among papers, in seldom-used apparel and shoes, under furniture or in crevices of window moldings. Closets, attics, crawl spaces and basements are the most common brown recluse spider hiding spots.
Like the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider bites in defense and does not bite humans instinctively. However, both female and male brown recluse spiders can bite and inject venom. The brown recluse’s bite is usually not felt, but results in a stinging sensation followed by intense pain as long as six to eight hours later. A small blister usually develops at the bite location that can turn into an open ulcer. Restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite.
Yellow Fever Mosquitoes
Female adult yellow fever mosquitoes primarily feed on humans, as a blood meal is required to produce eggs. These mosquitoes are active around the clock – biting during the day, and at dusk and dawn.
Yellow fever mosquitoes live in tropical, subtropical and some temperate climates. They often inhabit shaded containers with standing water to lay their eggs. Yellow fever mosquitoes also breed in flowerpots, spare tires, baby pools, drainage ditches and other objects where water collects. If you’re lucky enough you’ll find them digesting in the mouth of a venus flytrap.
The bite from a yellow fever or Aedes aegypti mosquito can result in an itchy, raised bump on the skin. More concerning, though, is that this type of mosquito is a vector of numerous diseases, including dengue fever and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have most recently been implicated in the global spread of Zika virus.
The most effective way to prevent contact with yellow fever mosquitoes – and all other mosquito species – is to eliminate areas of standing water around the home.
Red Imported Fire Ants
Red imported fire ants (RIFAs, for short) get their common name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings. These dark reddish-brown ants are an invasive species found throughout the southern part of the U.S.
Red imported fire ants usually nest in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping. Although these fire ants are often found outdoors, they can gain access to buildings through HVAC systems and AC units. These red ants build large mound nests that are flattened, irregular in shape, and between two and four square feet in size. They are commonly introduced into new areas through potted plants, shrubs and trees.
Fire ants will sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Often, a person stung by red imported fire ants will receive multiple stings from more than one of the ants. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely to red ant stings.