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October 15, 2020

Scariest Pests in Michigan

By Lauren Hogarth

Michigan is actually home to some of the scariest pests you may imagine. Our state is host to venomous spiders, but aggressive predator and something called an Assassin bug. These are all pests of different species that live in different environments and desire different things. The only commonality they share is that they all scare!

These five Michigan-infesting baddies aren’t necessarily the most common, dangerous, or even destructive pests we share a home state with. Not this post. No, these are simply the critters we’d least like to find underneath a couch cushion or, worse, in our beds. “We ain’t afraid of no critters,” of course, but even us professionals would think twice about approaching the top five scariest pests in our great state of Michigan:

1. Masked Hunter Assassin Bug

We said we weren’t kidding around about true “scariest” contenders here; get a load of that name

.The Reduvius personatus belongs to the family of assassin bugs (yeah, there’s a whole family). They are small, glossy dark brown or black insects with wide abdomens and distinctive “beaks.” Along with their name and appearance, assassin bugs are the scariest because of how they feed.

Masked hunters prey on smaller insects such as bed bugs. Their beaklike mouthparts are actually hollow and sharp, like a needle. They stab their beaks into prey, which they use to inject a digestive enzyme into the victim’s body. This enzyme literally liquefies their victim’s insides, which the bug then drinks it up through its beak like a straw! That’s probably one of the most savage things we’ve heard. However, before you pack your bags and move, it’s important to note that these bugs can’t drink your insides. However, they will bite you if they feel threatened (it’s about as painful as a wasp sting), but it isn’t dangerous. 

2. Woodlouse Spider

This spider has many nicknames: woodlouse, sowbug killer, 

pillbug hunter, literally the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Females are about ½ to ¾ inches long, while males are generally much smaller. Their many names refer to the fact that woodlouse spiders are predatory. They are nocturnal hunters that enjoy feeding on pillbugs and sowbugs.

Woodlouse spiders are easy to spot. Their coloration is quite distinctive: adults have a purple-brown body and bright orange legs. These legs are arranged mostly in front of the spider’s body, enabling them to run very swiftly. They also have large, threatening fangs that point forward. The spider uses these fangs like scissors to grab prey. It’s pretty unpleasant. Luckily, humans are rarely bitten by the woodlouse spider. Even if one did bite you, it would not be medically significant (i.e., dangerous). Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the next creature on the list…

3. Brown Recluse Spider

Yes, the infamous brown recluse spider appears to have taken residence in our state. They are also referred to as “violin” or “fiddleback” spiders because of the distinct violin-shaped marking on their backs. They measure about 1.3 centimeters (about the size of a quarter) and appear grey-brown, brown, or tan. Unlike most spider species, brown recluses only have six eyes as opposed to the normal eight.

Unlike the Woodlouse spider and many others, the Brown recluse isn’t just scary. They also happen to be one of Michigan’s most dangerous pests. Brown recluse spiders administer a potent hemotoxic venom when they bite. This venom causes rashes, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting; however, the worst symptoms include necrosis, which is the death of cells. Fortunately, brown recluse spiders are aptly named and are reclusive. They are not aggressive and prefer to avoid humans. Brown recluse spider bites are infrequent, even if the spiders live amongst people. However, brown recluse spiders aren’t the only venomous spider in Michigan.

4. Northern Black Widow Spider

You’re probably familiar with the Black widow. They’re arguably the most infamous spider on the planet, much less in the US. One particular species, the Northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus), happens to call Michigan its home. These spiders are paperclip in size and mostly black in color, except for an hourglass-shaped red marking on their abdomens.

Black widows are said to be the most venomous spider in North America. The venom they can inject via bites is considered 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake’s. Black widow venom is a “latrotoxin,” which means it attacks the nervous system. Their bites can trigger nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fevers, and even more severe symptoms. Luckily, black widows bite humans very rarely, and even when they do bite, they don’t inject much venom. Black widow bites are rare, but if a black widow bites you, you should take it very seriously.

5. Blacklegged Tick

The Ixodes scapularis, aka the “black-legged” or “deer” tick, is one of three tick species commonly found in our state. Black-legged ticks are most common in western Michigan, but you really can find them in any grassy area. These ticks are small and brown with distinctive black legs. Like all ticks, Blacklegged ticks hunt by perching on foliage and clinging to prey as it passes by. This tick species primarily feed on humans in the summertime.

Blacklegged ticks are the main transmitters of Lyme disease in the Northern United States. Blacklegged ticks pick up the disease-causing Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria when feeding on deer. They then transmit the bacteria into that human’s bloodstream after latching to them. Lyme disease causes headaches, fevers, fatigue, and an expanding rash called Erythema migrans. To avoid tick bites, apply repellent when walking outside and stay out of long grassy areas. Be sure to thoroughly inspect your body and remove any ticks that attach themselves to you right away.

From the frightening/dangerous to the just plain scary, Michigan has its fair share of monster pests to contend with. Luckily, you’ve also got your own personal pest-slaying force: Hogarth’s Pest Control.

If you’re losing sleep about the creepy-crawlies in your basement or attic, give us a call today. We’ll bust those pests before you can say, “Happy Halloween!”

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