Bug Blog

Arizona Critters

It’s that time year. When the weather starts to get warmer and on to blazing hot on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert in Arizona, people become livelier but they are not the only ones. In order to avoid potentially dangerous encounters with some of Arizona’s more dangerous critters, there is one basic rule to follow.

“Know where you are placing your hands and feet,” said Zen Mocarski, information and education program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Region 3 office in Kingman. “It sounds, and is, simple, but it can prevent a painful bite or sting.”

Mocarski asserts that the warm weather energizes snakes, scorpions, spiders and lizards. Snakes become “quite visible” on warm spring days.

“During the heat of summer, most rattlesnakes are more active during the evening and will seek shelter during the hottest hours of the day,” he said. “However, many of these creatures are more visible during milder temperatures of daylight in late winter and early spring.”

According to Mocarski, thirteen out of 20 species of rattlesnakes in the U.S. are found in Arizona. The western diamondback is mostly commonly seen by most people, but where many rattlesnakes can be found depends on the environment. While rattlesnakes prefer the desert, they have been known to travel into communities, but Mocarski warns that one needs to be more concerned with spiders.

“There are two spiders considered a threat to humans in Arizona. The black widow and brown spiders,” said Mocarski. Most spider bites do not require medical attention. People who are bitten need to be aware of possible negative reactions. “Everyone reacts differently to venom,” he said. The best course of action is to contact a poison control center for advice from medical professionals.”

Scorpions have developed a reputation as a dangerous spider, but their sting is only a bit worse than a bee sting. The bark scorpion, however, is the only scorpion in Arizona that is a threat to humans.

Finally the Gila monster is the only lizard in Arizona that is a potential threat to humans. They can be easily be avoided. “While I’m sure there has been an accidental bite throughout history, I’ve yet to hear about it,” Mocarski commented. “It wants nothing to do with people. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.”