Bug Blog

U of A Entomologists Claim That Arizona Is The State With The Greatest Diversity Of Potentially Dangerous Arthropod Species, Many Of Which Commonly Invade Homes

According to Biologist Randall D. Babb of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and researcher at the University of Arizona, the state of Arizona likely sees the highest number of venomous arthropods when compared to all other US states. However, most of Arizona’s venomous arthropod species are not likely to inflict bites or stings that result in serious medical conditions; instead, most arthropod envenomation incidents in the state result in nothing more than physical pain and irritating minor wounds. That being said, Arizona has its share of dangerous arthropod species, and some individuals may be sensitive to the venom certain arthropods transmit into the bloodstream. For example, Arizona is home to five recluse spider species, Africanized honey bees, Tarantula hawk moths, harvester ants and bark scorpions, all of which can inflict potentially deadly stings or bites to humans. Unfortunately, many venomous arthropods in Arizona are commonly found indoors, sometimes in large numbers.

The venomous arthropods most commonly encountered within Arizona homes include spiders, scorpions, and a few ant species, most notably southern fire ants, red harvester ants and Maricopa fire ants. Harvester ants are considered one of the most venomous arthropod groups in the world, and several species commonly found in Arizona homes frequently inflict stings that are potentially deadly and require immediate medical intervention. For example, one study found that red and Maricopa fire ants were the most commonly encountered ant pests by pest control professionals in and around Tucson homes, and in one single year, eight people were hospitalized in response to Maricopa and rough harvester ant stings in Tucson alone. The bark scorpion, the western black widow and five species of recluse spiders are the most dangerous arachnids found in Arizona. Luckily, recluse spiders are rarely, if ever, encountered within Arizona homes, but the western black widow is found in homes on occasion, and the bark scorpion is found within homes frequently, often in large congregations on interior and/or exterior walls. Despite their highly potent venom, fatalities resulting from spider bites and scorpion stings are almost unheard of in Arizona due to the wide availability of antivenin within medical settings.

Have you ever encountered a highly venomous arthropod within your home?