Know your pests
Ant Infestations are the most commonly reported pest problem. It’s necessary to properly identify the ant species that you have in order to effectively eradicate them. The five listed below are the most common species in the US.
Carpenter Ants: About five-eighths inches long. They tend to burrow in damp wood but have also been known to damage solid wood. They do not eat the wood, but simply remove it in order to build a nest.
Red Imported Fire Ants: Vary in size from one-eighth to three-eighths inches. They construct large mounds for nests and administer painful stings.
Pavement Ants: About one-eighth inch long. They generally make their nests in pavement cracks and are also capable of infesting a building.
Pharaoh Ants: About one-sixteenth inch long. These ants are commonly found in hospitals and nursing homes, where they are are capable of transmitting Staphylecoccus and Psuedomonas infections. Pharaoh Ants also invade restaurants, apartment buildings and similar dwellings.
Winged Ants: Can easily be mistaken for termites, which may lead to the wrong treatment. In comparison, ants have a very narrow thorax (mid-section), termites have a more uniform body.
Bed Bugs primarily reside in their target’s nests or nesting areas. While many bed bugs hide in mattresses, some may also hide in a sofa or chair, or behind wall paper or pictures. This makes bed bug removal an intricate process. These tenacious pests are about three-eighths inch long and are visible to the naked eye. They can go without food or water for as long as a year. Females lay eggs in batches of up to 200 at a time.
BEES AND WASPS
Most bees and wasps will not attack if left alone. However, some wasp species will become aggressive scavengers around human food. If provoked, a bee will sting in defense of its nest. Over the counter insect sprays should be used with caution, they can be caustic and can cause harm to your children and pets.
Beetles make up the largest category of insects in the world, accounting for approximately 25% of all life forms on earth. In fact, there are more than 5 million different species of beetles. Beetles are easily identified by their hard outer shell, which covers their wings, exposing them only during flight. A beetle’s body consists of three sections: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. Several types of beetles have larvae that feed on wood (example: powder post beetles, old house borer beetles, bark beetles, etc) which can threaten your home.
Centipedes can grow up to six inches in length. A centipede can be easily distinguished from a millipede because it has fewer legs; specifically, one set for every segment of its body. Millipedes have two sets of legs for every segment, and when they move, their legs appear to be moving in a wave-like motion. Centipedes actually have the ability to bite, and are poisonous. The poison from their fangs, located behind the head, is used to kill insects, which are their primary food. To a human, a bite feels like that of a bee sting, and can be dangerous, especially if there is an allergic reaction in response to the bite.
There are over 4,000 different varieties of cockroaches, but only about thirty of them can comfortably live with humans. The most common species that invade homes are the American, German, Asian, and Oriental cockroaches. Their size varies from half an inch to 2” long. Cockroaches increase in population at a very rapid rate. The German cockroach female lives about 200 days and each egg case that she lays includes thirty to fifty eggs. In her lifetime, she will produce between four to six egg cases. German cockroaches are clearly able to thrive. Once cockroaches infest a home, they are rarely seen. Cockroaches are nocturnal and can live up to a month with little or no food.
Crickets are small to medium-sized insects with mostly cylindrical, somewhat vertically flattened bodies. There are many kinds of crickets found around the world. Some species, such as the ground crickets, are wingless; others have small fore wings and no hind wings, others lack hind wings and have shortened fore wings in females only, while others are "macropterous", with the hind wings longer than the fore wings. The chirping of a cricket is made by males by rubbing two specially textured limbs together.
There are more than 240,000 different species of flies in the world. Approximately one third of them, including mosquitoes and gnats, can be found in the United States. A true fly has only one set of wings. All flies are known disease carriers, many of which can be transmitted to humans. Flies typically breed in garbage, excrement of animals and humans, sewers, compost piles, and any other place where matter is decaying. All flies have a rapid rate of growth and go from egg to adult in about seven days. Maggots are just one stage in the early development of a fly.
Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes do not require blood to live, as they actually feed on nectar. The males are not blood drinkers; however, the female of the species requires it in order to lay eggs. Once she lays her eggs, a female mosquito will seek more blood in order to produce more young. She will continue this cycle during her short life span of about two weeks. A single mosquito bite can transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and encephalitis.
Moths that are found in the home are generally one of two basic kinds; either a food-eating moth or a fabric-eating moth. A food-eating moth, which is the most common, will most likely be found in your pantry. A fabric-eating moth will most likely be found in your closet. Moth eggs are laid in or near these foods. The eggs will develop into larvae, which will start eating the food. In their immature stages, you are unlikely to see them because they will be close to the same color as the food they are in.
The class of creatures called “rodents” actually encompasses a much more than just mice and rats. It refers to any animal whose incisor teeth continue to grow, so they must continually gnaw in order to keep them serviceable. There are more than 2,200 different rodents. Together they make up more than 40% of all mammals. In this group you will find: mice, rats, squirrels, capybaras, nutria, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and many more. Rodents can carry up to thirty-five diseases that humans are susceptible to.
Several spiders pose a serious threat to humans. The two that are the deadliest to humans in the United States are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Since a few people die each year from the bite of either of these two spiders, it’s extremely important for any person who is bitten by one of these spiders to seek treatment immediately. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
Black Widow – The Black Widow spider can be easily recognized because she is black with a red hourglass on the underside of her abdomen. The male is considerably smaller than the female, and he has a body up to half an inch long. The Black Widow typically remains outdoors.
Brown Recluse – The Brown Recluse spider has a fiddle shape on its back. The Brown Recluse loves to be indoors and generally stays out of sight. It may never be seen until you startle it by reaching into a dark spot where it is hiding. Then it will bite.
Subterranean termites are the most common and destructive termite in the U.S. They are found in every state except Alaska. These insects make their home (a nest or colony) primarily in the soil or wood beneath the soil. They tunnel through the ground, searching for trees, brush and other decaying wood (preferred) found in nature. If this primary source is reduced or absent, termites look to other food sources, namely, your home. Termites easily access a home through any wood in contact with the soil.
Ticks can be found year-round but are most prevalent in the warm summer months. They are parasites, and as a result, are on a continual quest for a host. If a host is not available, however, a tick can still survive up to a year without feeding. There are two established families of ticks: hard and soft. A tick matures from egg to adult in stages, depending on the family, some reach maturity in only a few stages of growth. Ticks transmit a number of diseases as a result of feeding off both human and animal.
Many common wild animals have long been making themselves at home in our suburbs and cities. They discover food in abundance in our gardens, trash cans and pets’ food dishes. They tend to look for areas that provide a warm shelter that will protect them from the elements such as attics, basements, walls and chimneys. If there are easy access points such as loose siding, broken windows or missing foundation vents, animals will be more likely to set up residence.