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Palo Verde Beetles, Vinegaroons, flying termites, OH MY! Creepy critters emerge after recent rain

Have you seen any of these bugs in your backyard after weekend downpours?
Credit: Greg Olsen

ARIZONA, USA — The weekend rain brought much needed relief to the Valley, but it also caused some creepy critters to come out of the woodwork.

"Bugs literally sit at the edge of death without moisture so when moisture happens, it brings them all out," Brad Olsen said. He's the owner of Urban Desert Pest Control.

The rain and subsequent humidity brought out the expected mosquitoes, but there may be some bugs in your backyard you don't even recognize!

For example, termites that can fly. No thank you. 

Credit: Greg Olsen

"When the humidity goes through the roof, ants and termites say 'lets do it,' they grow wings, they fly out to find new colonies and that’s what swarmer termites and ants are."

Even if you don't notice them flying around, they may leave some clues behind.

"When they land they drop their wings pretty quick so what happens is eventually you walk out there and all you find are wings so people call and literally say 'I've got wings all over my pool,'" Olsen explained. 

Are swarming termites harmful to me or my home?

The short answer is no. 

You should only worry about termites if they're inside your home. Before you get to that point, preventative treatments are available. 

"Swarming termites don’t have a very good survival rate, it’s a very small amount that find a new area, find moisture, and set up shop. The only time you need to lose sleep and panic is when you have termites inside of the structure." 

Palo Verde Beetles

A lot of people are talking about these beetles on the Nextdoor app. It's probably because many in Arizona aren't used to seeing them!

"Palo Verde beetles are literally only brought out by rain and the humidity," Olsen added.

How big are they?

"I would say 3-4 inches, they’re scary."

Harmful or harmless?

For the most part - harmless. 

"They have pinchers on the end of them so they do have the capability to pinch you pretty good but they’re not aggressive or they don't go after you. To get pinched you would literally need to stick your toe in front of it and pick it up with your finger."

Vinegaroons

Vinegaroons look like little lobsters, and get their name from the substance they spew. 

"They have a tube at the end of their abdomen to spray what is essentially vinegar at anything, it's just like an acidic liquid," Damien Renner, Senior Keeper of Ectotherms at the Phoenix Zoo said.

You probably won't see Vinegaroons around your property. 

"They typically don’t like being in suburban areas," Renner explained. "Vinegaroons are not an animal you would typically see inside your house. If they are in there, they would probably not want to be in there."

While they aren't directly drawn out by rain, Renner said they will take advantage of all the other bugs that thrive in moisture. 

"They would probably be out opportunistically eating any of the other bugs that come out during the rainy season."

Dangerous or just disgusting?

For the most part - just disgusting!

"Unlike other arachnids they're actually not venomous, their only defense really is their two little pinchers. They would normally be under rocks and logs in the nighttime, overall they’re pretty harmless."