The Deadliest Creature in the World May Already Be in Arizona
Summer in Arizona means warmer weather, which brings us outside more. The turning of the season also brings our annual monsoon rains, which is always welcome because they bring life to the arid landscape, as it becomes lush and green. Grasses and blossoms bloom, as the abundance of life returns.
But, as much as we welcome the rain, there's a downside. Arizonans are used to dealing with a host of dangerous creatures in the Southwest, but there's one known the world over - and it takes more lives than any other living creature on our planet.
The Most Dangerous Creature in the World
If I say, Arizona's most dangerous creatures, you probably think of rattlesnakes or scorpions. Maybe you think of wild animals like mountain lions or Gila monsters.
But there's one creature that not only lives here in the desert, it also thrives nearly everywhere in the world. And according to the CDC, it's responsible for more than 2.7 million human deaths worldwide, every single year.
That creature? The mosquito.
There are more than 40 species of mosquitoes in Arizona, and a few of them transmit harmful diseases to humans and animals.
You may remember an outbreak of Zika Virus just before the COVID-19 pandemic. This mosquito-borne illness is of particular concern to pregnant women since the virus can harm the developing fetus.
Other common diseases carried by mosquitoes in Arizona are West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and yellow fever. And humans aren't the only ones at risk. Dogs, cats, horses, and other livestock are at risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, as well.
What Can You Do to Stop Mosquitoes?
Think like a mosquito. The best way to stop mosquitoes is to eliminate the places they live and reproduce. In Arizona, the biggest swell of mosquitoes happens from June to September during the height of our monsoon season.
Since mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, the first thing we can do is eliminate standing water wherever possible. This stops them from breeding in the first place.
Obvious places like still ponds and puddles are easy to spot, but mosquitoes will also take up residence in bird baths, used tires, planters, and buckets - pretty much anywhere that can accumulate about an inch or so of water.
Children's toys and animal bowls, when left outside, often make great rain-catchment sources - and the perfect place for mosquitoes to reproduce.
Simple Steps to Stay Safe
Did you know? Mosquitoes don't usually travel very far to bite you. Protection against mosquitoes is easier than you think.
- Since mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, try to stay indoors during this time, or wear long sleeves, pants, and socks when you have to be outdoors.
- Take a walk around your house and eliminate places mosquitoes could grow. Be sure to install screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
- If you have to be outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, certain essential oils on your skin and clothing.
- For a more natural repellent, consider using scents mosquitoes hate like lavender, peppermint oil, geranium oil, cinnamon bark oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, catnip, rosemary, and pine oil.
The CDC has many other tips and tricks to keep you, your family, and your pets safe during mosquito season. Let's work together to keep the world's deadliest creature out of Arizona as much as possible!