11 Arizona Bugs That Bite And Sting [And How To Avoid Them]

Given Arizona’s hot and humid weather, Arizona is home to many types of biting bugs.

Our previous post on little black bugs in Arizona revealed common black bugs in Arizona homes.

Those black bugs invade homes during specific months, either by flying in or by crawling.

Some of those bugs were nuisance pests, but some were biting bugs too.

But this guide is different. This guide focuses only on the bugs that leave painful and itchy bites on Arizona residents.

In this guide, you’ll find a comprehensive list of Arizona bugs that bite.

You’ll learn how to identify them, where and when they bite, and how to prevent bites from these bugs.

And a lot more!

Keep reading.

11 Bugs That Bite In Arizona

Eleven types of bugs can sneak inside Arizona homes and bite Arizona residents. These bugs are –

  1. Spiders (Black widows and Arizona brown spiders)
  2. Mosquitoes
  3. Africanized bees
  4. Paper wasps
  5. Yellowjackets
  6. Kissing bugs
  7. Arizona bark scorpion
  8. Red fire ants
  9. Brown dog ticks
  10. Scabies
  11. Chiggers

All the above 12 bugs can leave a painful bite if you are not careful. Bites from some of these bugs transmit diseases too!

The worst part, a few bugs from the list are too tiny to be seen with a naked eye.

So, when do these bugs bite? And where? Is there any way to protect yourself from the bites of these bugs?

The following section covers it all.

Spiders That Bite In Arizona – Black Widow Spider And Arizona Brown Spider

Black widow spiders are common in urban Phoenix homes and homes near the desert areas.

These spiders sneak inside the home during the peak of summer to escape the Arizona heat.

Black widow spiders are black, and they’ve got a distinct red violin-shaped or an hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomen.

How to get rid of black widow spiders in home

These spiders prefer to hide in the gaps and cracks inside your home. The places that they choose to hide are the ones that you don’t frequent often.

So, crevices in the storage rooms, attics, and basement are their preferred hiding places.

Black widow spiders bite, but only when they feel threatened by humans.

That’s why black widow spiders bite while you try to get rid of them.

While removing black widow spider infestation, it’s always advisable to wear gloves and boots to prevent bites.

Another spider, which is very specific to Arizona, is the Arizona brown spider.

The Arizona brown spider looks very similar to the brown recluse spider common in the mid-western US.

Arizona brown spider

But the significant difference between the two is the marking on the thorax. The marking on the Arizona brown spider’s thorax is lighter than the marking on brown recluse spiders.

The Arizona brown spider’s behavior is similar to the brown recluse spider. They don’t tend to rely on human habitats for survival.

But the Arizona brown spiders can be in your yard, living under piles of organic debris, woodpiles, and underneath stones.

However, in peak summer months, they can also sneak into the house.

Like the black widow spiders, the Arizona brown spider also prefers to hide in places where you don’t go often.

But the Arizona brown spider will prefer hiding in thin cracks at the higher places, like the gaps in ceilings.

It’s because of their hunting habit.

Arizona spiders pounce on their prey rather than wait for them to fall in its web.

Whereas, the black widow spiders spin webs near the ground because it hunts crawling insects rather than flying bugs.

Bites From The Arizona Brown Spider And The Black Widow

Spiders don’t bite humans unless you try to handle them with bare hands or they feel threatened.

Both the Arizona brown spider and the black widow are solitary and nocturnal spiders. They don’t prefer contact with humans.

But bites from these spiders occur when you unintentionally step on them or try to get rid of them without precautions.

The black widow spider bite is like a pair of punctures on the skin. It’s the marks of the fangs that the black widow spider inserts while it bites.

The bitten wound swells and turns red. It’s also painful, and the pain can last for a few days.

The bite from the Arizona brown spider is painful yet more serious than the black widow spider bite.

The bitten area turns bluish-red, and there’s necrosis on the bitten portion. The necrosis looks like a crater of dead skin surrounded by the reddish halo.


Both these spiders carry venom, and people, especially sensitive people like the elderly and children, can show severe reactions to spider bites.

These reactions include swelling on the bitten portion, nausea, vomiting, fever, and even dizziness. You should consult a doctor asap if a spider bites you and you’re showing these symptoms.

Removing spider infestation in your home can be a tricky job because most of the time, these two spiders hide in hard-to-reach places in your home.

However, there are ways to lure a spider out of hiding by using hacks like spider baits and insects.

But if you spot spiders in your home often, then you should hire a pest controller to get rid of them.

It’s because there’s a risk of getting bites from them, which you don’t want to expose yourself to.

Mosquitoes In Arizona – The Rising Menace

Mosquitoes have gone from bad to worse in Arizona, especially in 2021.

The monsoon season in Arizona has lashed out with heavy rains, which caused many waterlogging problems in the state and Phoenix.

That certainly created perfect breeding conditions for these critters to thrive.

Mosquitoes are active throughout the year in Arizona. But the peak mosquito season is from March to October.

There are seven species of mosquitoes active in Arizona –

  1. Western encephalitis mosquito
  2. Southern house mosquito
  3. Yellow fever mosquito
  4. Western malaria mosquito
  5. Inland floodwater mosquito
  6. Dark rice field mosquito
  7. Asian tiger mosquito

Out of all the seven, the Asian tiger mosquito, the western encephalitis mosquito, and the southern house mosquito are worrisome.

It’s because they carry the West Nile virus.

The West Nile virus can cause flu-like symptoms, which are non-life-threatening. But the virus can also cause life-threatening diseases like encephalitis and meningitis.

Mosquito bites occur mainly after sunset and during the early morning hours.

Most people think that mosquitoes bite in clusters. But that’s not true.

Mosquito bites are itchy, and the bite marks are pretty far away from each other. The bitten portion develops swelling and rashes.

Experts recommend not to scratch the bite wound because it can cause skin ruptures that lead to a skin infection.

To ease the itchiness, you can use an anti-itch cream or antihistamines on the bitten wound. Both are easily available over the counter.

Africanized Bees – The Deadly Biting Bees In Arizona

Africanized bee - Arizona bugs that bite

Arizona is home to 1300 species of bees. But the deadliest of them is the Africanized bees, also known as killer bees in Arizona.

Killer bees are smaller than honey bees. And killer bees are golden yellow with brown straps running across their abdomen.

Killer bees are oval-shaped, ½ an inch long, and they’re an invasive species.

These bees are natives of South America, but in the 90s and 2000s, they’ve spread to the south and the southwestern United States.

These bees are now common in Utah, Georgia, California, Texas, and Louisiana, apart from Arizona. And they’re making their way into other states of the US.

Killer bees or Africanized bees are deadly.

According to the Southern Arizona Beekeepers Association, killer bees kill several people every year.

The main reason for it is that they unintentionally disturb the killer bees’ hives.

Killer beehives are small, and unlike other stinging bees, they don’t build their hives in higher places.

Most often, killer bees build their hives in recesses and cavities in places like sheds and walls.

They also build their hives in the unlikeliest of places like tires, crates, abandoned boxes, behind electric and water meter panels, in the ground, mailboxes, and even inside cars.

In 2020, an Arizona family of four was badly stung by a swarm of killer bees because they unintentionally disturbed a killer bee hive in their shed.

All of them, including two children aged less than 6, were hospitalized.

These killer bees have stingers which they use to sting. After stinging, they die.

But if you disturb a killer bee hive, killer bees in hundreds will sting you. Their stings contain venom.

And when the killer bee venom enters in large doses in your body, it has severe effects.

It leads to vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and it can also damage muscles, liver, and kidneys.

The only precautions that you can take to protect yourself from killer bee stings are two – do not disturb the beehive and do not try to get rid of the beehive on your own.

Always hire a professional to do the job.

If you’re stung by Africanized bees, go to a doctor asap. If you’re outdoors and you’re under attack from these buys, do not jump in the water.

It’ll not protect you from bee stings. These bees will hover and wait for you to emerge so that they can sting you.

Paper Wasps In Arizona

In the list of Arizona bugs that bite, the paper wasps are the least likely to sting.

But if you disturb their nests, these wasps can get pretty aggressive.

Unlike killer bees, a single paper wasp can sting multiple times. Paper wasps are active starting from the spring months till late fall.

These wasps build their hives or nests on higher places of your home, like ceilings and roof shingles.

They’re not likely to bite you when they’re buzzing around inside your home. If you see a paper wasp buzzing around inside your home, don’t try to kill it.

Instead, open the window, and it’ll exit your home. Wasps are beneficial to the ecology as they pollinate.

Stings from paper wasps are not as painful as the stings from honey bees or bites from spiders.

They’re quite mild. Yet, people who’re allergic to bug bites can show some allergic reaction to paper wasp bites.

If you see a paper wasp nest in and around your home, do not try to remove it by yourself. Contact a pest controller to do the job.

Western Yellow Jackets In Arizona

Yellow Jackets In Arizona

Yellowjackets in Arizona are active starting from late spring till late fall. Yellowjackets are a type of wasp.

They’re bigger and brighter than a paper wasp. Yellowjackets are yellow with black stripes running across their abdomen.

They’ve got two wings, yellow legs, and they grow up to 16 mm in length.

But unlike wasps, yellow jackets are ground-dwelling bugs. They build their nests in the abandoned rodent burrows.

However, they can also build their nests in wall voids, cracks in wooden structures, and attics.

Yellowjackets sting when they feel their nests are in danger. They become quite active during the late fall when their numbers increase.

So, many Arizona residents experience stings from the western yellow jackets during the fall season.

Their sting is quite painful. Abrupt and sudden movements make the western yellow jackets more aggressive.

So, if you come across a western yellowjacket, don’t get alarmed. Move away from the place with minimum movement.

Kissing Bugs In Arizona – The Biting Bug In Summer

Bugs that look like kissing bugs

Kissing bugs get active in Arizona in the summer months, especially in Tucson and Phoenix.

Kissing bugs are nocturnal biting and blood-sucking bugs that are all over the US.

Kissing bugs are from the assassin bugs family. But unlike other assassin bugs, kissing bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded mammals.

There are seven species of kissing bugs in Arizona, out of which three of them – Triatoma rubida, Triatoma protracta, and Triatoma recurva are the most common in urban areas.

You’ll find some of these species in residential areas and towns near the Sonoran desert.

Kissing bugs enter homes during the summer months, especially in May and June.

These two months are when you should be most vigilant about kissing bugs in your home and yard.

Kissing bugs are attracted to light which causes them to sneak inside your home. Inside your home, kissing bugs will hide in cracks and crevices.

Some may even sneak between mattresses and box springs.

Kissing bugs, being nocturnal, feed at night. They’ll bite when you’re in a deep sleep. The carbon dioxide from their prey’s body attracts the kissing bugs to them.

Kissing bugs bite on people’s faces. The bite marks swell and develop into itchy red lumps near the lips and nose area.

Kissing bugs also bite pets like dogs and cats, and even livestock.

Kissing bugs carry parasites that can cause Chagas disease. But thankfully, in Arizona, there are no confirmed cases of Chagas disease from kissing bugs.

If you notice a kissing bug in your home, then the chances of the kissing bug biting you in your sleep are quite high.

Do not try to handle it with bare hands or try to squash it. Instead, take a broom, scoop it in a jar and throw it away from your property.

Kissing bugs, being nocturnal, feed at night. They’ll bite when you’re in a deep sleep.

The carbon dioxide from their prey’s body attracts the kissing bugs to them.

Kissing bugs carry parasites that can cause Chagas disease. But thankfully, in Arizona, there are no confirmed cases of Chagas disease from kissing bugs.

If kissing bugs bite you, you’ll experience itching, swelling, rash, and redness on the bitten area.

If you’re allergic to bug bites, then you’ll also experience symptoms of nausea and dizziness. If that’s the case, it’d be best to consult a doctor asap.

Arizona Bark Scorpion

Arizona Bark Scorpion

As the name suggests, it’s a species of scorpion that is native to Arizona. But the bark scorpion also lives in California, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The Arizona bark scorpion is tan, and it grows up to 2.5-3 inches in length.

Outdoors, the bark scorpion lives under wooden logs, rocks, and in the wetlands adjacent to rivers and streams. But they’ve adapted well to the desert environment, so you’ll come across them in the Grand Canyon and in the Sonoran desert too.

Over the years, Arizona bark scorpions have become an invasive pest in Arizona homes, especially during the summer.

These scorpions will sneak inside the home through the thin gaps and cracks in summer, searching for a milder place to live.

Inside the home, the bark scorpion will hide in places like the attic, crawlspaces, furniture, cabinets, and inside the tight gaps in damp areas like the bathroom and basement.

Some can even sneak inside your shoes.

The Arizona bark scorpion is the most venomous in North America. The sting from it is very painful.

The venom that the bark scorpion injects through its stinger causes excruciating pain. The bitten portion can also become numb for at least 48 hours.

But only in the rarest of cases, their stings are fatal to humans.

However, if you’re stung by a bark scorpion, rush to the doctor rather.

Bark scorpions are nocturnal, and they pounce on their prey by lurking. Bark scorpions emit a bluish glow if you focus a torchlight on them.

That makes it pretty easy to detect bark scorpions, especially when they’re hiding in your home.

Red Imported Fire Ants In Arizona

Red Fire Ants - House Ants That Bite

If there’s an ant that can leave not just a painful sting but also a burning sensation in your skin, it’s the red imported fire ants.

Also known as red fire ants, these biting ants are not native to the US.

They’ve rampantly spread in the southern and southwestern US since the early 90s.

Red fire ants are now a regular occurrence in the yards and gardens in Arizona homes. Many homeowners in Arizona notice mud mounds in their yards, especially starting from the late spring.

These mud mounds are nests of red fire ants. They also have a habit of making these mounds near the home’s foundation, which makes it easy for them to sneak inside your home.

Indoors, these ants will build their nests near the food source. So, your kitchen is the primary place where they’d like to establish their colonies.

However, they can also be in damp areas like the bathroom, laundry room, and basement. Red fire ants will make their nests in the wall voids and the cracks and gaps on the floor and furniture.

Red fire ants are tiny and very aggressive. If you disturb their nests, they’ll crawl onto you in swarms. And each and can sting you multiple times.

Their bites are painful and extremely itchy. A large number of red fire ants bite multiple times, so their bite marks appear as clusters.

To calm the burning sensation, you can use the ice packs on the sting site.

Antihistamines and essential oils like peppermint oil soothe the itchiness and inflammation caused by the fire ant bites.

To get rid of them inside your home, you must destroy their nests. Only using ant sprays on them won’t give you the right results, and they’ll keep showing up time and again.

You’d need the help of a professional pest controller to get rid of fire ants infestation in your home and yard.

There are other ant species in Arizona, like the carpenter ants and the harvester ants, which are not nasty biters like the red fire ants.

But these ants can show up in homes suddenly.

Infestation begins mostly in the form of swarms in the monsoon season in Arizona when flying ants enter homes.

These winged ants are the reproductives, also known as alates, that leave their present colonies to find a new place to start a new colonies.

Brown Dog Ticks In Arizona

Arizona is home to 25 species of ticks. Ticks belong to the family of arachnids, the family to which spiders and mites belong.

Of all these ticks, the brown dog tick is common in Arizona, especially in Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs.

Brown dog ticks are reddish-brown, and when they have their blood meals, they turn into grayish-blue. Adult brown dog ticks are ⅛ inches long. But after blood meals, their size increases to ½ an inch.

As their name suggests, these ticks primarily target dogs. But given a chance, they can also feed on human blood.

Brown dog ticks are active starting from April till October.

Dogs get brown dog ticks from the high and dense grasses and shrubs. These ticks live in those places waiting for a host to latch onto.

Dogs then carry these ticks home. Inside the home, some of the ticks fall off the dog’s body because of scratching. Then these ticks that fell off will hide in any thin gaps and cracks they can find in your home.

Your home’s indoor environment is perfect for these ticks to breed and lay eggs, and which they do. These ticks breed inside these gaps.

And after a few weeks, hundreds of ticks’ larvae come out of these cracks, searching for a host.

These hungry larvae need their blood meals to grow. So, they’ll bite on any mammal that they can reach, including you.

The result? Painful and itchy tick bites.

Tick bites look like any other bug bites. The bite marks are small red bumps, and the bitten area itches a lot.

Bites from ticks can cause diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever.

But with a little bit of caution, it’s possible to prevent both tick infestation in your home and bites from ticks.

While spending time outdoors, be mindful that you do not walk between dense bushes and tall grasses. Ticks can also latch onto your clothing, and through your clothing, you can transfer them to your home.

It always helps to wear a bug-repellent cream while outdoors.

Insect repellent creams containing permethrin or picaridin are best to repel tiny biting bugs like ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.

If your dog is constantly itching, then it’s a possible sign of tick (or flea) infection in your dog. Take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice your dog is often scratching.

Scabies Mites In Arizona

Scabies mites are itch mites that burrow underneath your skin to live and reproduce. These mites are microscopic, and you can’t see them with a naked eye.

Scabies mites in the skin always cause intense itching and rash. The rashes look like red bumps, similar to pimples.

When left untreated, these scabies mites increase in numbers under the skin. The tunnels that scabies mites dig inside the skin become visible, and the skin develops dry crusting.

The most common places where you can get scabies mites are on the finger webs, elbows, and in skin folds in different parts of the body, including in your private parts.

Scabies mites are contagious, and most of the time, they spread because of extended skin contact with the infected person.

Using fabrics like towels, bed linen, and the clothing of an infected person can also cause scabies mites.

In Arizona, scabies mites infection has broken out in some prisons, which has led to the alarm.

But scabies mites infection is treatable. Many people overlook it because, initially, they appear like pimples.

If there’s an intense itching on the pimples and you’re developing rashes, seeing a doctor for treatment is the best course of action.

Chiggers – The Skin-Eating Mite That Causes Itching

Another biting mite, which is also tiny (1/50th of an inch in size), is active in Arizona from early fall until late spring.

Like the scabies mites, chiggers are also microscopic.

Chiggers are larvae of adult chigger mites. The larva chiggers have six legs, and the adult ones have eight.

Chiggers in the house

Chiggers live in tall grasses and dense bushes. Walking through them can make them latch onto your clothing.

Once they get access to your skin, chiggers will inject their digestive enzyme into the skin, causing it to break down. Then they’ll feed on the broken-down skin.

That causes intense itching and redness on the skin.

Chiggers bite in skin folds. So, places like the armpit, elbow-folds, crotch, waist, and knee-folds are the common places where chiggers can bite.

There’s no side effect of chigger bites. However, people sensitive to bug bites can experience some allergic reactions.

Keeping your yard clean and washing your clothes straight after an outdoor activity in the fall and summer months are proven methods to get rid of chiggers.

What To Do With Bug Bites?

By now, it’s clear that bites from the 11 bugs on the list are intensely itchy, and the bites cause skin irritation, rashes, infection, and in some cases, paralysis.

Most of the time, bites from these bugs are treatable by over-the-counter medicines.

But if there are severe allergic symptoms, which many people can show, like nausea, dizziness, vomiting, muscle pain, and fever, then seeking medical attention from a doctor is the right thing to do.

To prevent bug bites, appropriate precautions during the seasons when these bugs are most active are necessary.

Spring months are when most of the bugs on the list are at the peak of their activities. And these activities include mating and invading homes.

Sealing gaps and cracks of your home’s foundation, window frames, and door frames go a long way to prevent these bugs from crawling inside your home.

Keeping your home, especially your yard, clean reduces the bug activities and the chances of invasion.

Getting rid of organic wastes like foliage and rotting pieces of wood, removing clutter, keeping firewood safe and dry, and using the right mulch beds are ways to prevent bug activities in the yard.

And not to mention, professional pest control is always the best course of action to get rid of these bugs, especially the tiny ones.


To summarize, 11 common bugs in Arizona bite the most. These bugs are also widespread in big cities of Arizona like Glendale, Tucson, and Phoenix.

These bugs are –

  1. Spiders (Black widows and Arizona brown spiders)
  2. Mosquitoes
  3. Africanized bees
  4. Paper wasps
  5. Yellowjackets
  6. Kissing bugs
  7. Arizona bark scorpion
  8. Red fire ants
  9. Brown dog ticks
  10. Scabies
  11. Chiggers

Out of these 11 bugs, the bite from Africanized bees is the most fatal. The bite from Arizona bark scorpion can cause paralysis in some people.

The bites and stings from the rest of the bugs are intensely itchy, and some microscopic bugs like scabies mites can also cause a nasty skin infection.

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