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I am quite confident that there would be agreement about how unusual the year 2020 has been. Almost every day there is a story about some strange infestation, odd bugs, or a weird discovery. As an example a recent news headline read, “Huge snake-like worm species invading Georgia.”

According to the article the Peach State is experiencing an unprecedented infestation of an invasive species of snake-like, carnivorous worms. In recent months hammerhead worms, also known as shovel-headed garden worms, have been found in every county of the state, There have been more than 100 sightings in Atlanta alone.

The worms, which can grow to be a foot long, primarily feed primarily on soil dwelling invertebrates. Now, here is the really interesting part. Researchers have found that the worms produce a similar neurotoxin as pufferfish. Common in Asia, experts are of the opinion that the worm arrived with imported potted plants. The agricultural department has suggested that residents interested in disposing of the worms do so without touching them with their hands.

Virginia is experiencing a different kind of plague. It is small and it is hairy. It is the most venomous caterpillar in the United States. The Virginia Department of Forestry is warning residents to stay away from the caterpillar because it has venomous spines across its thick, furry coat. This little critter is native to northern Mexico and Texas. How it arrived in Virginia is a mystery. According to a University of Michigan study, the reaction after an encounter can include an itchy rash, vomiting, swollen glands and fever.

Murder hornets, or Asian giant hornets, grabbed the headlines earlier in 2020. They were soon eclipsed by other infestations, plagues and crisis. Then, on October 24 entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture located, eradicated and cleared out a nest inside of the cavity of a tree near Blaine, Washington. Researchers were stunned to find approximately 200 queens in that nest.

Then there is the spread of bark scorpions, the most dangerous species of scorpion in the United States. Once common along the Mexican border and further south, these pest are now found throughout Arizona as well as parts of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The bark scorpion causes a painful sting and abnormal muscle activity like muscle twitching, slurred speech, or difficulty swallowing and breathing according to Poison Control.

As COVID 19 closed museums and research centers, scientists found themselves with time on their hands. In southern California. A group of entomologists with the History Museum of Los Angeles County instituted a study that included trapping wasps, bees, gnats and flies. Much to their surprise they discovered nine species of small flies, all new to science. They also found botflies, parasites of rats and wasplike flies that most likely arrived from Central America, their native habitat.

The year 2020 has provided ample opportunity for worry and concern. Fortunately residents of Bullhead City and the Colorado River Valley can scratch concerns about insect infestations from their worry list. The professionals at Baron Services are just a phone call away.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America

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