News: Yuma's critters gone wild
Story by Lance Cpl. Laura Gauna
YUMA, Ariz. - Yuma houses some of the deadliest animals in the world, which is why station pest control plays such a vital role in keeping the men, women and children living here safe.
Jerry McCluskey, station pest controller and 49-year-old native of Eureka, Calif., is responsible for
managing the wildlife here, the Cannon Air Defense Complex, Yuma's ranges and the Camp Billy Machen Navy Seal Training Facility in Calif.
"My mission is to make your mission easier and to provide a safe environment for Marines to live and work," said McCluskey.
Not only do the most poisonous spiders in Arizona, the black widow and Arizona brown spider, live here but the most poisonous scorpion, the bark scorpion, the most venomous rattle snake, the Mojave green, and the only poisonous lizard, the Gila monster, also reside here.
With more than 13 species of rattlesnakes in Arizona several of the most poisonous snakes live here in Yuma, including the western diamondback, Mojave, sidewinder and coral snake.
Their bites are extremely painful and destructive.
Each year over 95 rattlesnake bites are reported to the Banner Poison Control Center.
If bitten victims are to seek medical attention from a hospital emergency room immediately.
Summer is when snakes are most active, especially from July to September, so it's advised to be extra cautious during these months.
One thing to keep in mind is baby rattlesnakes are born without rattles.
They don't form the first segment of their rattle until one to two weeks of age when they shed their skin for the first time. So don't depend on the warning rattle to alert you that a rattlesnake is nearby.
The bark scorpion is the only scorpion in the continental U.S. that is classified as potentially deadly. It is commonly found in houses and buildings and have an extremely painful sting.
They have been reported by some to feel like a heated metal piercing through the skin.
Other dangerous animals to be aware of are bees, wasps, conenose bugs, velvet ants and tarantulas.
These critters are found in every nook and cranny imaginable, which is why McCluskey advises that people clean their clutter and stay vigilant.
There are several simple ways to preventing a bite or sting including removing debris from the yard, wearing heavy work gloves when working in the yard, keeping doors and windows sealed tightly, and looking before you place your hand on something.
Station pest control aims at solving problems in an expedient and safe way.
Buildings are checked periodically while the facilities handling food are checked every month.
"We try not to use chemicals," said McCluskey. "We look for a non-chemical way of controlling a problem.
We use mechanical means when handling pests. We trap rodents and capture and relocate snakes. If we do use chemicals, we try to use the less concentrated ones."
Although, risk of serious injury is more probable in the elderly and young children, these animals still pose a problem to Marines.
Mission readiness is hindered when Marines are stung or bitten and are sick for two to three days, sometimes more.
Preventing injury is important for Marines here to complete their mission.