Your garage should be a shelter for your car or maybe some of your excess belongings. However, every summer it becomes the refuge of unwanted pests. Most of these pests are just a nuisance, but some are painful or even dangerous.
We try to keep our homes closed much of the time to keep out these pests, but the garage door is left open for extended periods of time – especially during the summer. Summertime in Arizona is when kids enrolled in Valley public schools are enjoying their summer vacations, playing sports and riding their bikes in the neighborhood. The place where their bicycles and basketballs are stored is usually the garage, and if most kids are like I was, that garage door stays open until it is time to come inside for dinner. Scorpions really appreciate that!
Scorpions appreciate the garage door being open primarily because their favorite foods love seeking comfort in the garage, which is cooler than the outside environment during our Arizona summers. One of their very favorite foods is the house cricket. If you live in Valley cities like Phoenix, Tempe, or Laveen, you are very accustomed to the sound of house crickets chirping at night. Especially during the hottest months. The sound may be so overwhelming that it is hard to tell if it is just outside or even inside your home! One thing is for certain, they are probably in your garage making that noise as well.
Most people are very good about getting rid of roaches, flies, and spiders, but crickets are typically tolerated. You should not do that! An out-of-control cricket problem is a scorpion problem waiting to happen in our ecosystem.
Scorpion Season usually begins in March and runs through to October. If there is unseasonably warm weather outside of those months, scorpions may be a bit more prevalent outside that period. Once the weather cools down around November, the scorpions begin to hibernate. They hibernate in groups and this can be the best time to eradicate them in or near your home!
The Scorpion’s Sting
Most scorpion stings won’t require you to seek medical treatment, but if you happen to have a much stronger reaction than what is the norm, you can receive care at a hospital or “minute clinic” in your community. The negative effects are temporary, but you can receive medication to treat pain, muscle spasms or high blood pressure.
The use of scorpion antivenom is somewhat controversial. The quality and safety of antivenom products is not uniform and the effectiveness of the treatment is usually far more potent if administered before the symptoms present themselves. If the symptoms of a scorpion sting are severe, they will probably be administered even if the situation is not optimal, but it is typically a last resort.
Common Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting:
- Pain, of course.
- A tingling or numb sensation in the body part affected by the sting.
- A bit of swelling directly around the sting itself.
- More Severe Scorpion Sting Symptoms
- Tightening of the air passages.
- Muscle spasms.
- Twitching of the head and neck.
- Intense sweating.
- Uncontrollable drooling.
- Hypertension (aka high blood pressure).
- Intense or irregular heartbeat.
What to Do if You are Stung by a Scorpion:
- Use a mild soap to wash the wound.
- Use a cold compress on the area that was stung for 10 minutes, remove it for the same amount of time, and then reapply as needed.
- Use over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen if the pain is significant.
How to Keep Scorpions Out of Your Home
Arizona homeowners are all too aware of the threat that scorpions pose. Many of us take it for granted that we must share our homes with these venomous pests. Much like triple digit weather, scorpions on our property are just seen as things we must live with, but it should not be that way. While the sting of the average Arizona scorpion is usually not lethal, the most vulnerable members of your family should be protected from them. The effects of a scorpion sting tend to be more severe if the victim is very young, very old, or is otherwise in poor health to begin with.
Instead of reacting to scorpions, we all can take a more proactive approach to make the environment in and around our homes less inviting.
- Inside and outside, clutter provides hiding spaces for scorpions. Outside clutter such as wood piles, leaf piles, or even junk should all be kept at least 10 feet away from the home. Inside clutter on the floor of the garage can be eliminated by the use of an overhead garage storage rack. Place your belongings neatly into storage boxes and then keep them off the ground on those overhead racks. Not only will you remove the hiding spaces for bugs, you will get to enjoy more space in your garage!
- Seal the doors and windows with caulk whenever possible. Also seal vents and cover them with screens. Scorpions are often willing to climb a few feet up a wall, so many entrances are fair game to them.
- Fill in the cracks and holes in the foundation and walls of the home.
- Use an exterior anti-scorpion spray up to a couple feet up the exterior walls, and on the ground near the walls. The area sprayed should include walkways, patio, and even the garage door frame.
- Backup the spray with granules that will be even more lethal to scorpions.
- Finally, use spray that was made for indoor scorpion control in every single space, especially in hiding places and access points like closets and around the window frames.
Remove the Scorpions’ Favorite Foods
Scorpions will eat a lot of other bugs, especially house crickets. In many parts of Arizona, house crickets arrive in a large wave around the summertime and with desert landscaping being very popular here, there are lots of nooks and crannies for scorpions to hide in by day and emerge at night to feast on all those noisy crickets. If you have lots of cricket noise outside your home and even inside your garage, you are inviting scorpions into your home, whether you know it or not!
Why the Garage?
Pests will take any part of the home, but the garage is far more accessible and less disturbed by humans. Pests get to invade the garage in larger numbers and then use all the storage boxes that are rarely searched for privacy. Once they begin to breed in the garage, the bug problem gets bad enough that they must push further into the home. Certain insects like silverfish and cockroaches can eat paper and glue, so old books and cardboard boxes will keep them there indefinitely if you do nothing about it. Those bugs then attract spiders who love a place where their webs won’t be damaged by alert humans. Then after all that, the scorpions will come in and prey upon all of them!
How to Keep Bugs Out of the Garage
The easiest thing to do is to keep the garage door closed most of the time. That being said, if the bottom and sides of the garage door leave a large enough gap, bugs will still get in. The garage door should be the proper size and the bottom of the garage door should have some weather stripping so that it will be flush with the ground when closed. Other than the obvious entries, cracks in the walls need to be discovered and sealed. You can use a silicone caulk to do that very affordably. Vents and windows also need their seals examined and replaced if needed.
In the desert, moisture is life, so fix any leaky pipes so the bugs have nothing to drink. And another thing, clutter is the friend of anything unwanted. If you can’t see it, you can’t get rid of it, so remove the clutter and no pest will be able to hide from you. With many bugs being very cautious by nature, they will not settle in your garage if they have nothing to crawl under. Reduce how many things you store in there, and for the things you keep, put them in plastic box containers instead of cardboard boxes. As stated earlier, some bugs love to eat cardboard.
Routinely sweep or use a shop vac in your garage to remove any small debris (crumbs, dirt, insect eggs, larva, leaves, or spider webs). Also, inspect any new item you place in the garage to make sure you are not introducing scorpions or any other unwanted pests into the garage.
If finding all the entry points and hiding spots and using the proper pest control methods to kill the pests is hard for you, you can always hire a professional exterminator to do that for you.
Arizona Scorpion Facts
- Most of our local scorpions measure up to 3 inches from head to tail.
- Scorpions have eight legs and pincers like a lobster.
- Scorpions are nocturnal.
- They can control the amount of venom they release.
- Every scorpion you are likely to see in Arizona is native to the state, so don’t be too angry at them – they got here before you did!
- Scorpions can live under water for up to two days! This means you should check your pool and even the pool filter just in case.
- Scorpions are not insects; they are arachnids. They are related to spiders, mites, ticks, etc. Therefore, some insect infestation remedies won’t be very effective against scorpions.
- While common scorpions are usually seen on the ground, they will climb up surfaces. They can climb rough surfaces that have pits and grooves their tiny pincer feet can grab onto. They cannot, however, climb smooth surfaces like glass or steel.
- Many people say they were “bitten” by a scorpion, but scorpion mouth parts are not used for aggression or defense. If you feel pain and see a scorpion nearby, chances are you were stung by the tail. Much less likely, is that you were pinched by one of the claws.
- Most scorpions in Arizona may be scary or even painful but they are not dangerous unless your health is compromise by age or allergy, but some varieties, like the bark scorpion can be a bit more dangerous.
House Cricket Facts
- House crickets have a very obvious name origin: they are commonly found invading houses. They are not native to America; they actually came from Europe and simply never left!
- House crickets tend to be located in the southwest United States.
- In this species, the loud chirp is caused by the male rubbing his front wings together to attract potential mating partners.
- They are almost yellow in color and have three brown bands across their heads.
- Typical adult house crickets will be just under one inch long.
- Their antenna can be longer than their body!
- They are attracted to moisture and warmth in colder months.
- House crickets are known to chew fabric.