The Who's Who of Dangerous Garage Pests

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Even the tidiest garage is not immune to visits from some of the Valley’s pest population. Because many homeowners use part (or most) of their garage to store tools and seasonal items, it is the perfect place for critters to hide. In addition, because the garage door is so big, it gives nature a chance to come in unimpeded whenever the door is opened, for example, if the garage door isn't working properly. Today, we’re going to review some of the pests which may try to make a home in your garage. Not all of these pests are dangerous, but they all sting or have venom, or a fear factor reputation, which make them worth noticing.

 Look for the dark, upside down fiddle on a recluse spider's back. 

Look for the dark, upside down fiddle on a recluse spider's back. 

Brown Recluse Spider

 A brown recluse is nothing to 'fiddle' with. Here is a close-up of the distinctive marking.

A brown recluse is nothing to 'fiddle' with. Here is a close-up of the distinctive marking.

While a brown recluse is shy, its venom is necrotic, meaning, it will cause human tissue to die. This makes medical attention necessary. Most people don't realize they've been bitten until they have a reaction, which starts out looking like a bruise or blister but can be quite serious. They hide in piles of rocks, wood, blankets, and even shoes.  If you think you've been bitten by a brown recluse, try to catch it and consult with a doctor or the kind folks at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center. (see below.)

At left, a zoom-in of the 'fiddle' on a recluse spider's back. The bite can be troublesome and symptoms include chills, fever, itching, sweating, and nausea. The bite may leave a large hole at the site.

 

 

Black widow spider

 Black widows are shiny black spiders with a red hourglass on the abdomen.

Black widows are shiny black spiders with a red hourglass on the abdomen.

Black widows have a red hourglass shape on their belly, a description we find a little amusing since this requires the viewer to be able to see the spider’s abdomen. Suffice to say they are black and very shiny, and create very disorganized webs. The other distinctive feature, usually found in the web, is the light tan egg sac full of her babies, which the black widow protects in the web.

Black widows are very shy and will try to avoid biting you unless they feel threatened. Less than 1% of the people who are ever stung (<2000 a year) ever require medical treatment.

Scorpions

The ones you need to watch out for are the tan/yellow ones, called bark scorpions. The adults are two to three inches long, and they like to hide underneath your boxes. They can climb anything which isn’t slick, and, while they can live a long time without food, they do like to be near water. The Arizona hairy scorpion is much fatter, has hairs on its legs and isn’t as venomous.

While scorpion bites are painful, they’re usually not life-threatening unless the person is allergic to them, which is a relatively rare occurrence.

 Hairy, but not scary.

Hairy, but not scary.


Tarantulas

Tarantulas are big and hairy and very timid. While their bite is venomous, it’s never fatal. Tarantulas are territorial, though, so make sure if you catch one in your garage, you turn it loose someplace where it won’t be able to find its way back into your garage.

Killer bees and wasps

Killer bees are much more aggressive than their honey bee counterparts. While a honey bee hive will half-heartedly defend itself, killer bee hives attack aggressively en masse to protect their home.  The problem with wasps is that, while they will also sting when they feel threatened, they won’t die after one sting the way bees do, so one wasp can sting multiple times. 

Rattlesnakes 

Rattlesnakes will seek shelter in your garage when it’s too hot, too cold, or after being displaced by monsoon rains. Their venom is very poisonous, and unless you’re trained, it’s a terrible idea to attempt moving one. Killing them is illegal. However, the kind folks at Rattlesnake Solutions will come and remove them for you for a reasonable price if you call them at 480-237-9975.

Stay tuned! In a future blog, we will explain how to manage these unwanted visitors.

If someone has been stung or bit by something you believe might be poisonous:


Banner Poison & Drug Information Center can be reached at 800-222-1222 or (602) 253-3334

Quality Overhead Door, Inc. is a full-service garage door installation and repair company for both residential and commercial customers in the Gilbert area 480-838-8850.