June Weather In Phoenix

June 1, 2016 Get Ready!! Here comes the season of triple digits. Make sure to change your air filters every time you pay your rent. A clean system not only runs more efficiently but can save $$ on your monthly bills and costly repair fees.


Hungry and disoriented because of an unseasonably warm winter, some unwanted creatures are invading backyards in Arizona. Look out for scorpions.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The scorpions that scurry around this desert region emerged from their winter slumber early this year.

Usually dormant until late March, the creatures came out in February as temperatures soared, making a month that is generally pretty pleasant the second-warmest February on record.

That got Ben Holland’s phone ringing: Callers were finding scorpions on their beds, in their showers, on walls in and outside their homes and all over their yards. Mr. Holland — a vice president for digital marketing by day, a scorpion exterminator by night — assembled his band of hunters, young men in or just out of college, and put them to work.

“Our approach is population control,” said Mr. Holland, 32, who started Scorpion Sweepers in 2006, putting to use his experience collecting scorpions for a laboratory while in college and his once-ignored biology degree. “We don’t poison the scorpions. We don’t smash them. We pick them up one by one.”

They use a tool called a forceps, which looks like the tweezers one might use to pluck eyebrows, only bigger. Success requires speed and dexterity, skills that are learned on the job. On his second season, Toby Riley, 24, whose other career is in graphic design, demonstrated it as best as he could to Zach Wilson, a scorpion-hunting rookie three weeks shy of graduation from Arizona State University. (Major: digital marketing.)

“Pinch the scorpion’s tail and turn your wrist, like this,” Mr. Riley said, moving his lower arm as if hurriedly scooping beans from a pot.


Zach Wilson used a black light to hunt for scorpions last week outside a home in Scottsdale, Ariz. A substance on its exoskeleton makes the pest glow under a black light. CreditCaitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Pest extermination is big business in these parts and specialties vary — from African bee catchers to termite killers and roof-rat snatchers. Mr. Holland and his sweepers go after scorpions only, and they work only after dark.

Last week, Mr. Riley and Mr. Wilson were zigzagging along manicured grass and river rocks here on a moonlit night — “one acre out front, one acre out back,” the homeowner, a lawyer named John Schill, told them. Water trickled from a three-tiered fountain. Dogs barked inside. A palm tree leaned above the pool, its trunk twisted into a sideways “s.”

Mr. Riley and Mr. Wilson buttoned their shirt collars snug against their necks (to keep bugs from falling in), slipped on thick neoprene gloves, laced up their snake-proof boots and turned on the big black lights they each carried.

Scorpions glow under black lights. The glow comes from a substance found inside a hard-and-thin coating on the scorpion’s exoskeleton. Scientists are not sure what purpose it serves. Some say it is to confuse prey; others believe it is to protect scorpions from sunlight.

There are 1,800 types of scorpions in every place on the planet except for the Arctic, and more than 50 species in the Sonoran Desert, which covers much of the state. At no more than three inches long, bark scorpions are the smallest, most common and most dangerous — “the only one of them considered to be life-threatening,” said Keith Boesen, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, housed at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson.

On average, the center and its counterpart in Phoenix log 12,000 reports of scorpion stings each year, though many more go unreported because people treat them at home. Children, older adults and those who are infirm are particularly vulnerable and should seek immediate help if they get stung, Dr. Boesen said. Deaths are rare — there was one in 2013 and another some 10 years earlier, he said.

Still, pain and discomfort from a scorpion’s sting are inevitable and the reactions can range from scary to bizarre.


Hunters use a tool that looks like tweezers to pick up scorpions. CreditCaitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Israel Leinbach, a biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture in Hawaii who spent years in Phoenix researching bark scorpions, described the pain as “the feeling of being stabbed with a hot knife.” It may last anywhere from a few hours to several days and resist all efforts to make it go away quicker: cold compresses, over-the-counter pain medication, antihistamine.

One’s face and tongue might feel numb, but there is no treatment for numbness, Dr. Boesen said. And it could get worse. Because venom is a neurotoxin, nerves could fire uncontrollably. Muscles may spasm. Lips might twitch. Sometimes, eyes will roll around, in opposite directions.

“It almost looks like you’re possessed,” Dr. Boesen said.

Unlike rattlesnakes, scorpions have no warning system, and bark scorpions, in very light shades of brown, can be particularly hard to see. Like rattlesnakes, though, scorpions will sting only if they feel threatened — and a threat can amount to as much as a foot sliding inside a shoe, a scorpion’s favorite hiding spot.

Another are the crevices on stucco walls, a staple of homes built in these parts. Mr. Leinbach calls them “scorpion hotels.”

Scorpions are ultimate survivors, having evolved during their estimated 400 million years on this planet to withstand inhospitable conditions such as those they find in the desert.

Until they find a home at somebody’s home, that is.

Mr. Schill’s had plenty of moisture on the ground, as sprinklers wet his grass and 149 palm trees every night. The moisture attracts bugs — food for the scorpions. The palm trees’ flaky bark provided perfect hideaways. Mr. Riley plucked five scorpions from a single one of those, 107 scorpions after 90 minutes of crouching and leaning forward to snag the critters. Scorpions that are not distributed to research labs are killed “in the most humane way possible,” Mr. Holland said. (Freezing them is an option.)

Many of them scurried away, slipping under river rocks and the ceramic tiles on the roof.

“I’m not worried,” Mr. Riley said, holding a plastic box filled with his loot for the night. This was their first visit (cost: $200 to $250, depending on the property size and location). He knew that to bring the infestation under control, there would have to be more visits.

“Scorpions are territorial,” he added. “I’ll know exactly where to look for them next time we come back.”

by phoenix.about.com | Judy Hedding, Phoenix Expert

Prepare to Leave for the Summer – One to Two Weeks Before

In April and May our winter visitors retreat to their northern U.S. and Canadian homes where the summers are not as harsh. If you close up any home for several months there is some preparation involved. Because of the severe heat and monsoon storms in the Arizona desert, there are some extra precautions that are warranted.

Here is a checklist of things to consider before leaving your Phoenix home for the summer months.

Some people will do all of these and some people won’t. Some people will do everything right and still return to storm damage or water damage, and some people barely think about the consequences of leaving a home in extreme heat and come back to find everything in great shape. I know that when I leave my house, even for short vacations, I am always somewhat relieved when I turn the corner and see it for the first time!

Prepare to Leave for the Summer – One to Two Weeks Before

Some items on your checklist take a bit longer than others. A week or two weeks before your departure date you should consider any of these items that need your attention.

  1. Arrange for your mail and regular deliveries to be stopped or forwarded. I’d do this at least ten days before the effective date.
  2. Notify your telephone, Internet service provider or satellite TV provider to put your service on hold.
  3. Notify any newspapers when you will stop delivery and when to resume.
  4. If you live in an area with an HOA, notify them of your departure date and when you’ll be back.
  5. See if there are any local vacation watch programs offered by either your HOA, your local community or your local police department.
  6. Arrange for storage of valuables that you won’t be taking with you for the summer. For instance, store jewelry or important documents in a safe deposit box.
  7. Coordinate emptying of refrigerator with trash and recycling pickup. Start eating up the leftovers and cleaning out the refrigerator.
  8. Speaking of trash, start trimming trees and bushes in the yard so you can have that trash picked up before you leave.
  9. Do not drain your hot tub. The heat will damage it. Turn off the heating system for the water, but leave the filtering system on.
  10. Remove any standing water (kiddie pools, buckets, bird baths, etc.) from the yard. If you have a fountain, either empty it and turn it off or leave the water circulating to avoid mosquito problems.

Checklist: Closing up Your Phoenix Desert Home for the Summer

Now that it is a day or two before you are scheduled to leave, here are some more things to remember to do to prepare your home for closing during the summer.

Prepare Your House to Leave for the Summer – One to Two Days Before

  1. Remove chairs, furniture and decor from patio or yard. Anything that’s cloth, plastic or wood will be damaged by the summer heat if you leave it outside.
  2. Replace back-up batteries in fire alarms, automatic watering systems, thermostats, security systems.
  3. Seal up non-refrigerated products like cereals, grains, boxed foods, baking products and pet foods in plastic bags or containers with tightly sealed lids to keep bugs and moisture out.
  4. If you will be turning the refrigerator off while you are gone, empty it. Leave the doors open while you are gone for circulation.
  5. If you’ll be leaving the refrigerator on while you are gone, toss any foods that will spoil. You can keep items like condiments and water in the refrigerator. A working refrigerator that is nearly empty uses more energy, so add bottles of water. Empty the ice tray and turn off the automatic ice maker.
  6. If you have a soft water system or reverse osmosis water system, determine if any action is necessary on your part before leaving.
  7. If you are leaving a car in the garage, disconnect the battery. You might even want to cover the vehicle to protect it from dust.
  8. If you have a golf cart, put water in the battery.
  9. Remove propane tanks and combustible/flammable chemicals from the garage.
  10. Even if you will be turning off the main water valve to the house, you can still water the plants in the yard. Set your irrigation timer appropriately for summer heat so all your shrubs and trees aren’t dead when you return.
  11. Even though you aren’t in the house, and whether you water the yard or not, there will be weeds. Consider a yard care service that will take care of the weeds, do some trimming, mow the lawn if you have one and check for irrigation system problems while you are gone. Make sure it is a company that you know and trust — obviously the workers will know that you aren’t living in the home.
  12. If you have a pool, arrange for a pool service to handle the maintenance while you are away.
  13. Arrange for exterior pest control while you are gone.
  14. Got houseplants? They probably won’t be alive when you return, so either lend them to a neighbor or take them up north with you!
  15. Provide a key to the house and any external gates, as well as your contact information, to a neighbor or relative who lives nearby.

Final Preparations for Closing Up Your Arizona Winter Home

You’re all packed and you are ready to head out the door.

Prepare Your House to Leave for the Summer – Before you Lock Up and Drive Off

  1. Unplug the appliances, entertainment units, computers — everything. The lightning from our summer monsoon storms can wreak havoc with electrical equipment.
  2. Leave large buckets or tubs of water in each room for moisture.
  3. Turn off the air conditioner, or set the thermostat if you’ll be leaving the A/C on. How to decide? Some people turn off the A/C totally. Some leave it on but at a high temperature, like 90 or 95. Your decision here has to to with the items being left in the house. Is there artwork that you don’t want to dry out in the heat? Does your security system only work at a particular temperature? Do you leave your wine collection in the house?
  4. If you have natural gas, turn off the gas at the main valve.
  5. Flush all toilets and run all faucets.
  6. Turn off the water to the house at the main valve. Drain any remaining water from the faucets, long shower head extensions and such.
  7. Turn off ceiling fans, indoor and out. Sometimes we forget to look up before we leave the house!
  8. Leave all the interior doors open so the air can circulate inside the house.
  9. Close all the blinds and drapes to keep as much heat out of the house as possible.
  10. Have candles? Store them in the refrigerator (if you are leaving it on) or put them in the coolest, darkest part of the house.
  11. If you use call forwarding on your land line, now is the time to remember to set it.
  12. Open the doors to the washer and dryer, the dishwasher, and any other appliance that typically seals up. Put a few spoonfuls of vegetable oil in the dishwasher and in the garbage disposal so the seals don’t disintegrate in the heat.
  13. Unplug the garage door opener.
  14. Turn the water heater off.
  15. Ask a neighbor to check every couple of days to remove any fliers, phone books, packages or other items that may be tossed into your driveway or left by your front door.
  16. I recommend hiring someone –either a trusted neighbor or a professional company — to stop at the house periodically to check for leaks inside and out, walk the house, visit after monsoon activity to check for storm damage, etc.
  17. Our homes, systems and issues are all different. Some of the items in these checklists might not apply to your house, and there may be other items that you’ll need on your checklist that other people don’t have to consider. Some people leave for 3 months and some leave for 7 months. Complications arise if you allow someone to stay at your house for a week or two while you are away. Is it worth the grief? I’d ask them to stay at a motel!

    I recommend that you use this information to create your own personal and permanent checklist. Add contact names and numbers for any professional services that you’ll be using year after year. Hopefully you will have the preparation down to a science after a year or two, and you can be worry-free about your desert home while you spend the summer up north.

WesternHoneyBeeAccording to the Douglas Fire Department, it has started receiving of calls regarding bees, as a result they have compiled a list of what to do to be safe around bees and what to do if attack.

The Douglas Fire Department has responded to 6 calls for people concerned about bees already this month. One of those calls involved bees stinging a dog. The dog was tied up, and by the time the Department was able to get the bees to stop attacking, it had been stung too many times, and it died.

Take some basic precautions to avoid problems with bees:

-Fill or cover and holes or cracks larger than one-eighth of an inch in their houses, sheds, or other outbuildings. If an opening needs to stay open cover it with a fine mesh screen.

-Keep clutter in their property to a minimum. Trash piles, wood piles, and similar places are natural places for bees to want to build hives.

-Inspect your property weekly. Listen for buzzing and watch for bees going into or out of an area. If you notice a buzzing sound or bees going in and out of an area repeatedly there is a good chance that there is a hive.

-Teach children of all ages to be respectful of bees and to stay away from hives or large groups of bees.

-If you do think you have a hive keep people away from the area. Contact a professional bee keeper or exterminator. They can be found online, in the phone book, or you can call or stop by the Douglas Fire Department for a list of numbers for professionals in the area.

-Do not attempt to exterminate the bees yourself. Close to 100 percent of the local honey bee population has some level of africanization (sometimes referred to as killer bees) which makes the bees aggressive and more likely to sting you in large numbers.

If you do find yourself near a hive:

-Bees will often start by “bumping” before they sting. If you have one or more bees flying up toward you or into you without stinging you they are giving you a warning to go away. You are probably close to a hive or swarm. Calmly, but quickly leave the area. Keep others away and call an exterminator.

-Teach children to respect all bees and avoid hives or swarms.

-Do not start swatting or killing bees just because they are near you. This will only make them madder or alert more bees to come to where you are. Leave the area quickly and calmly.

-One bee or few bees near flowering plants is not a hive. One or even a few bees flying around flowering plants are usually collecting pollen and are more interested in that then they are in you. Generally leave these bees alone and they will leave you alone.

-Bees are often moving through. If you see a large number of bees in a ball on the outside of a tree or other structure in the morning or evening, they are usually just resting for the night. Often you can keep people out of the area and they will fly away when it gets warm enough. If they stay for more than a day then they may be making a home. Call a bee keeper or exterminator.

If you are being stung:

-Cover your face and head. Use a towel, or even your shirt to cover your head.

-Run. Get away from the area as quickly as possible. Africanized bees may chase you for as far as one-quarter of a mile.

-Do not jump in the water. The bees will wait for you.

-Get inside a secured area. Get in a closed car or building. Remember, many businesses have automatic doors so running in to a business will just bring the bees to more people causing more problems. Get inside a building where you can secure the door.

-Remove stingers. Use a blunt object to remove stingers by using a sweeping motion to push the stinger out. Do not use fingers or tweezers to pull the stinger out. Any venom left in the stinger will get pinched into the wound.

– If you are stung several times, have a known bee allergy, or feel you are having an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, chest tightness, significant swelling) call 911.

If bees are actively stinging a person or animal or are creating some other sort of emergency call 911 right away.