AP NEWS

Reptiles, scorpion weed set for seasonal returns

March 22, 2018

Spring is in the air, but there’s a downside for Lake Havasu City residents. As warmer weather approaches, household pests and inhospitable plants are expected to return as well.

Most Havasu locals know better than to touch the purple flowering plants that become abundant around February and March. The plants, commonly known as scorpion weed, are covered in tiny “hairs,” each of which can transmit an oil that causes rashes and itching comparable to poison ivy or poison oak.

According to Arizona State University ecologist Doyle Wilson, this year’s colder weather and lack of rainfall may have postponed the plant’s arrival, but it has already begun to spring up in some parts of the city.

“Scorpion weed comes to Havasu every year,” Wilson said. “Cooler weather may have kept it down, but it’s coming. When it warms up, it’ll take off again. Depending on how residents treat their yards, it can be prolific. It’s better to keep up with it. You can use herbicide, but it’s tough to get out.”

According to Wilson, scorpion weed is only one nuisance that will return this spring.

“Typically as we get into March, reptiles get out of hibernation. For some species, it’s their mating season, and they become more visible than they normally are. We’ll see more snakes, and diamondbacks are an unfortunate part of our ecology.”

Diamondback rattlesnakes are commonly recognized by their triangular heads, diamond-shaped markings decorating their length and the rattle of their tails as they attempt to ward off potential threats. Diamondbacks thrive throughout the Havasu region, and their bites can be fatally poisonous to unsuspecting travelers.

While some creatures and pests are expected, Wilson says spring can bring unexpected visitors each year as well. Some years have brought butterflies numbering in the billions, according to Wilson, while Havasu has in other years hosted plagues of grasshoppers and gypsy moths.

According to Tony Macis, of CTM Pest Control, insects reproduce rapidly during warmer weather. Crickets, centipedes and scorpions are expected to emerge, and Macis says that bees will return with the bloom of spring flowers.

“We get the most calls for crickets and ants in the spring,” Macis said. “Insects will search for water, and some will invade inside of homes. Spiders can be a problem as well.”

According to Macis, Havasu residents can prevent pest problems by keeping their homes tidy. Debris or leaves lying against homes should be cleared, and trees should remain trimmed to prevent pests or rodents from gaining entry.