Arizona is known as the Copper State because it has vast, rich deposits of this crucial metal. It’s also the site of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most famous landmarks. But today, we’re interested in far smaller things. Specifically, we’re studying some little black bugs in Arizona. They include beetles, myriapods, arachnids, and arthropods. Let’s check them out!
Little Black Bugs in Arizona
Springtails are sometimes called jumping bugs or snow fleas. All three names come from the insect’s ability to launch itself like a teeny-weeny gymnast. From our perspective, it’s not that impressive. But this little black Arizona bug can catapult several times its height, covering incredible distances and doing multiple backflips in the process. It can even jump off water!
These insects are usually yellow-and-black. They can survive extreme temperatures so you’ll see them hopping in the snow during winter. They don’t bite people and mostly eat rotting leaves and roots, so they’re beneficial as long as they’re outdoors. But they can infest house plants too. Pesticides, diatomaceous earth, and bug screens are effective against springtails.
2. Darkling Beetles
The word darkling sounds like it comes straight from a YA fantasy novel or sci-fi series. But it’s a cool and common name for a certain species of little black bugs in Arizona. Sometimes known as black beetles, these insects don’t bite or bother humans. They come out after heavy rain because the soil quality of monsoon season is ideal for their preferred snacking habits.
They will sometimes come indoors, attracted by light and houseplants, and you might get creeped out when your home is suddenly full of tiny darklings. Pesticides will keep them under control. You can also install bug screens and check for any cracks or gaps in the walls, windows, and doors that they may use to enter the house. But they leave once the rain stops.
You can find weevils all over America, not just in Arizona. And the species you get will depend on what you grow or buy. Common varieties include rice, maize, bean, pea, and wheat weevils. The first two can fly but the rest can’t. Weevils range from dull brown to black, are 2mm to 4mm, and have distinct snouts they use to dig into grains and eat starch.
Their thoraxes usually have pit-like dimples while their abdomens have stripe-like indents and four spots in a lighter color. Since they feed on the cereals and grains we eat, pesticides aren’t a safe choice. You can spray the shelves and corners where weevils hide, but it’s better to freeze your cereals for a week after purchase then transfer them to airtight containers.
4. False Chinch Bugs
If you work in your Arizona garden a lot, you’re probably used to seeing stink, seed, and chinch bugs. False chinch bugs look similar but are a different species, hence the ‘false’ in their name. These migratory insects aren’t specifically interested in your yard. They migrate to avoid dry weather, so they just swing by your flowerbed as a drive-thru window for snacks.
Despite their cool name, these bugs can be annoying. They prefer pastures, tall grass, and weeds, but as they look for their next stretch of vast greenery, they can mess with your lawn. They multiply rapidly during rainy seasons – or in well-watered lawns. Most are resistant to pesticides, so use a DIY spritz of alcohol, water, and dish soap, or just call an exterminator.
If you live with animals, whether it’s a cat, a dog, a cow, or a chicken, you probably have fleas. These dark brown bugs appear black from a distance, especially if they’re flittering under fur. They feed on blood and can spread various diseases. Plus, in a pinch, they can bite humans too, leaving itchy rashes on your feet, ankles, and lower legs (because they can’t fly!).
The best way to control these little black bugs in Arizona is to use regular anti-flea options. These include weekly or monthly flea baths for dogs and livestock. For cats and birds that are less open to shampoo, you can administer flea pellets or even monthly shots. Flea collars are sometimes offered to pets, but cats will just claw them off, and the collars can cause chafing.
6. Carpet Beetles
Most beetles are harmless to humans. But unlike their vegetarian cousins that prefer plant sap, carpet beetle larvae feast on fur, wool, hair, silk, leather, felt, feathers, insects, and even skin! Adults revert to pollen, pet food, and grains, so it’s the babies you need to worry about. Interestingly, they avoid synthetics like polyester or plant-based fabrics like hemp or cotton.
They might nibble on them if the cloth is stained with food or sebum, but they’re more into animal proteins like keratin. And unless you catch them red-handed, you might think you have clothes moths rather than beetles. So if you see adult carpet beetles around the house, check your stored fabrics and dry-clean or freeze them. Vacuum the rugs and use pesticides.
7. Biting Midges
We spend a lot of time worrying about imaginary werewolves and vampires. But we already have lots of vampire bugs around us – and some of them are equally scared of garlic! Biting midges fall into this category. They bite humans, suck blood, and look a bit like mosquitoes. Over 4,000 species exist, including sand flies, moose flies, gnats, five-0’s, or no-see-ums.
Technically, all these little black bugs in Arizona – including mosquitoes – are classified as true flies since they only have one pair of wings while other flying bugs have two or three. Also, midge bites are itchy, painful and potentially allergy-inducing but don’t spread diseases to humans. They can make other animals sick though. Use bug screens, fans, and repellents.
Even the biggest spider lovers can get creeped out by webs. Not the huge ones that sparkle in the morning when they’re dotted with dew. The thin silky ones that float invisibly and graze your skin as you walk past. It feels like you’re being attacked by unseen substances! But most people are terrified of spiders themselves, not just their webs. Still, they’re helpful creatures.
They eat other pests like flies, mosquitoes, and roaches. That said, a few varieties are toxic to humans so it helps to know the common types of spiders in Arizona. These include recluse, wolf, widow, cellar, and common house spiders as well as tarantulas. If you don’t want them around, clean your home regularly to destroy their webs, and seal all the spider entry points.
Millipedes are adorable. In theory. You tickle them and they curl up into a cute spiral coil. But when you stop and think about them … they’re blackish, reddish, purplish worms with a million legs! Okay, maybe 400, though some in California have as many as 750! And they don’t really bother us, since they don’t bite us or our pets. And they don’t spread diseases.
They mostly come indoors when the weather is unpleasant outside. And if you really piss them off, they’ll spray icky orange mustard on you. It stings a little, but soap and water will get it off. The easiest way to get rid of them is with a broom. Just sweep them out and you’re done. You could vacuum them, though that’s excessive and could hurt the poor little things.
Scorpions are perfect for tattoos, but you don’t want one in your Arizona home – their bites are extremely painful and their venom can be deadly! Plus, their horrible tempers are easily triggered, so they’ll attack you at the slightest provocation. Luckily, their eight legs (including two front pincers) and their curvy stinging tail are intimidating enough to scare anyone off!
Scorpions are about 2 inches long, but their babies can be quite small. The most popular species in Arizona are brown or yellow for better desert camouflage, but a few black species of scorpions do crawl in from surrounding states. Clear their hiding spots and use relevant pesticides. Dogs are sometimes afraid of scorpions, but cats and chickens love to hunt them.
11. Fungus Gnats
You probably haven’t heard of fungus gnats, but chances are you’ve seen them. They’re almost identical to two little black bugs in Arizona, namely, drain flies and fruit flies. And these insects are close cousins, except that they have slightly different features and diets. Fruit flies are brown with red eyes. They like to eat the yeast on rotting fruits and vegetables.
Drain flies are black and hairy, and they hang around drains and bathrooms. Fungus gnats prefer potted plants and stay close to the soil, both indoors and outdoors. All three are true flies and multiply at alarming rates. And you can catch them in a simple trap – a bowl with vinegar, a drop of dish soap, and lemon rinds. Cover it in saran wrap and poke a few holes.
First, don’t look up any tick extraction videos on YouTube. A lot of them are pranks featuring kids and you’ll have nightmares for months! Just read an article instead. It’ll tell you that ticks are blood-sucking mites that range from pink to grey but get reddish-black after a full blood meal. They mostly go for cats, dogs, birds, and cattle, but they can bite humans as well.
When they do, they can spread lethal infections like Lyme disease, so you don’t want them around! And when they’re on your pet, they look a lot like the tissues inside the ear so they can be tricky to spot. Keep ticks away from you – and your pets – with tick medication. You can also use tick tweezers to manually remove any visible ticks. Make sure you get the head!
Did we forget any little black bugs in Arizona? Remind us in the comments section below!