Mathis Exterminating Pest Control Library
Common Pests we exterminate in Washington State
Male and female black widow spiders do not look the same. Males are black with white spots on each side. Females are also black, but have a red hourglass on their back.
A full grown black widow’s body is approximately ¾-inch long. The diameter of the abdomen of the black widow is approximately 3/8-inch.
A black widow’s bite is known by two puncture marks. Their venom blocks nervous impulses from being transmitted through the body, resulting in pain in the abdomen. Although the bite can be serious, it is uncommonly fatal.
Although many people think that black widows are aggressive, they are actually quite non-aggressive and will only bite a person for self defense. They are solitary spiders who spend daylight hours deep in the tunnel of their webs. Their mating ritual is the only time during the year that they are not solitary, and they typically only live for about one year.
Black widows are extremely venomous, thought to be 15 times more venomous than a rattlesnake. A person who is bit by a black widow can expect symptoms such as nausea, muscle aches, and difficulty breathing. Their bites can be fatal to the young and the elderly, but it is very rare.
Black widows are solitary year-round except during its mating ritual. During the daylight hours, this spider spends its time in the silken tunnel of its web. The female will hang upside down displaying the red hourglass as a visible warning signal. They feed on insects and arthropods, and have an average lifespan of one year.
Black widows create their webs in holes or crevices in building foundations. They can also be found in holes on outdoor furniture. Crawl spaces underneath homes, as well as basements, are also good homes for a black widow’s web.
A brown recluse spider can range anywhere from light to dark brown. Their backs have a violin marking that is darker brown.
The body of a brown recluse spider is approximately 5/8-inch.
In order to avoid coming in contact with brown recluse spiders, don’t leave your clothes on the floor. Put your shoes in containers with lids. Always shake out the clothes in the hamper before you wear them or wash them.
A brown recluse spider is nocturnal. Crickets, cockroaches, and other similar bugs are their main diet. They will not bite a person unless they are provoked and then it is a bite of self defense. If someone is bit by a brown recluse, they may not notice it for a few hours. When they do notice the bite, it will look like a pale blister surrounded by red. A day later, they may have a fever, suffer convulsions and nausea, and will feel weak. Female brown recluse spiders do not venture too far, whereas males could end up in your shoe.
Brown recluse webs look disorganized and are near ground level in homes, barns, and basements. They prefer dark areas.
Daddy long legs are a gray to brown color. They contain banding and chevron marks. They are thin and fragile.
Daddy long legs are actually a lot smaller than they appear to be. A daddy long leg body is only about 1/10 – ½ – inch long. Their long legs can make them about 2 inches long.
An urban legend that has circulated for many years states that daddy long legs venom is more potent than any other spider. Although they are so venomous, their fangs are too short or weak to be able to bite through human skin. It is true that their fangs are short, but there is no evidence proving that their venom is toxic to humans.
Some species of daddy long legs will invade other spider’s webs to eat the other spider, their eggs, or even their prey. They mimic trapped prey by vibrating the other web. When the other spider comes out of their web tunnel to wrap their prey, the daddy long leg sprays the spider with its silk web. Next, the daddy long leg will bite the other spider to kill it with venom.
Daddy long legs are able to stay invisible to predators by vibrating in fast circular motions. Because they are so thin, it appears that they are a blur or are invisible, and the predator might pass right by them.
Indoors, a daddy long leg will make its web in the corner of the wall and ceiling. Outdoors, a daddy long leg will make its web inside a large tree hole or underneath a rock.
Male jumping spiders are smaller than females. Some jumping spiders are black and have white markings on their abdomen. Others have metallic green chelicerae and are iridescent.
Jumping spiders are quite small, ranging from ½ inch and smaller.
Jumping spiders only bite when they are disturbed, as a form of self defense. If you are bit by a jumping spider, it might hurt, but there will not really be any other effects.
Just as the name implies, jumping spiders can jump. Their bodies are able to move when the blood pressure rises and is released in their limbs, making the circulatory system the reason they are so fast and jumpy. They are known to be among the fastest moving spiders around and can jump approximately 10 to 40 times their body length.
Jumping spiders have fantastic eyesight. Four eyes are connected to their face, and four are on the carapace at the highest point. Two of the eyes in the center of their face are long and tube-like. Those eyes have very high resolution, but not very good perspective. The other two eyes on the face have greater perspective, but not very good resolution.
Jumping spiders typically eat insects, although some also eat web-building spiders.
Outdoors, jumping spiders live in yards, grasslands, and prairie areas. Indoors, they live in barns and houses near windowsills and near doorjambs.
Wolf spiders are large and hairy. They commonly have gray, black, and brown colored patterns on their bodies. Although they have shorter legs than other species of spiders, they often appear more robust.
Wolf spiders range in size from ½ to 2 inches long.
Wolf spiders are able to protect themselves from predators, hunt, and find mates using their keen senses. Wolf spiders have great vision. They are also quickly alerted to the movement of other organisms by their highly sensitive detection of vibrations. They are camouflaged, which allows them to stay hidden in the leaves where they live.
Wolf spiders are not poisonous, though as with all spiders bites may cause reactions in certain individuals.
Female wolf spiders are known to live for several years; whereas, males rarely live for more than one year. After the female has mated, she will lay her clutch of eggs, and then enclose them in a silken round ball. She then attaches the silken egg package underneath her abdomen, and holds it in place with her spinnerets. This practice is a characteristic behavior of wolf spiders. Burrowing wolf spiders bring their egg sacs out into the warm sun during daylight hours, and then hide them in their tunnels during the night. After the eggs hatch, the young spiderlings ride on their mother’s back. Soon they will be large enough to explore the world on their own.
Instead of spinning webs like many other types of spiders, the wolf spider lives within burrows. Some burrows remain open, while others are sealed with doors made of silk. During the rainy months of the year, wolf spiders attempt to deflect floodwater by building turrets, plugging their burrow with pebbles, and placing twigs at the entrance of their burrows. As fall approaches, wolf spiders seek shelter indoors. Many people find them in their doorways, windows, houseplants, basements, and garages.
Bees & Wasps
There are close to 20,000 different species of bees in the world. They are divided into several different categories based on the way they colonize.
These bees are mostly solitary. The only difference is that same generation females will use the same nest. Each female will make her own cells for her eggs, larvae and pupae within the nest.
Several kinds of bees are semi-social. These bees live in small colonies consisting of anywhere from two to seven bees of the same generation. One of the bees is the queen and also the principal egg layer, and the other bees are the worker bees.
A beehive functions as a miniature society; they contain three specialized groups or castes. The castes consist of workers, drones and queens, and each has their own specialized function.
Primitively Eusocial Bees
Around 1000 species of bees exist in small colonies. These colonies consist of a queen bee and a few daughter workers. It is very hard to distinguish the difference between workers and the queen bee in these colonies. These temporary colonies typically die out in the fall, and the fertilized queens are the only bees to survive the winter. Bumblebees are a familiar example of primitively eusocial bees.
Eusocial bees are also referred to as truly social bees. These bees live in large colonies. The colonies consist of females from two generations, the mothers, or queens, and the daughters, or worker bees. The only part that males play in the colony is for fertilization, and don’t participate in the organization of the colony. In these colonies, the larvae are fed progressively, meaning the cells are left open so that the worker bees can tend to them.
Highly Eusocial Bees
A few hundred species of bees are highly social. These bees form permanent colonies. In the colonies, the worker caste and queen caste are significantly different in structure. Each caste is created specially for its individualized activities, and is unable to survive without the other caste. These colonies are highly specialized and complex, and individual bees may perform specialized functions within the colony. Response to the environment inside and outside the hive regulates the tasks of defense, collection of food and storage of food, and reproduction. These bees use chemical messages, touch, and sound in order to communicate. Honeybees fall into this category and also use a symbolic dance language to communicate with other bees. The nests of highly eusocial bees are elaborate and may even use wax secreted by the bees in construction.
Bee venom is stored in a sac attached to the stinger called the ovipositor. Because the ovipositor is part of the female reproductive system, only female bees sting. The queen bee also uses her ovipositor to lay eggs. Worker bees are sterile females and do not lay eggs, using their ovipositors only to sting.
Bees are able to see all color except for red. Using this along with their sense of smell, they are able to find flowers to collect pollen. Pollen is used as a source of food and is also dropped in transport, often resulting in cross-pollination.
Some species will die after they sting because their stingers are attached to their abdomen and have hooks on them. When the bee attempts to fly away after stinging, part of the abdomen is ripped away.
Wasps are flying insects. Though closely related to bees and ants, they have a number of unique characteristics that differentiate them from either.
They are generally between one and two inches in length, and have narrow translucent wings. Most species have long thin bodies. They can be yellow, brown, reddish-orange, or black in color. Female wasps have a stinger. Unlike bees which have barbed stingers, ensuring that they die after stinging once, wasps have smooth stingers that allow them to sting repeatedly.
Wasps are generally not aggressive, but if they feel threatened or feel that their colony is in danger they will attack humans. They can sting multiple times without dying, though only female wasps have stingers and the ability to deliver stings.
Wasps make their homes in a variety of different habitats. Like bees, butterflies, and moths, they feed on nectar. Some parasitic wasps also require a host species to be native to the area in order to reproduce. These parasitic wasps have a variety of pest control uses. Sometimes wasps are introduced to an area by farmers to keep the pest population down since wasps kill other insects while doing relatively little damage to crops.
There are two distinct types of wasp species: solitary and social. Solitary wasps live and hunt alone from the time they reach adulthood, while social wasps build nests and live in colonies that may have up to several thousand members. Most colonies have a single queen and a handful of male wasps to mate with her, while the vast majority of the wasps in the nest are sterile female workers who are responsible for gathering food and defending the nest.
Social wasps reproduce inside the nest via mating between the queen and fertile males. The reproductive cycle of solitary wasps is more interesting and varied. After the mating between a solitary male and female wasp, the female was will lay her eggs in small chambers. These chambers may be located underground in specially constructed mud cells, or they may be attached to a solid surface such as a tree trunk or wall. The wasp then seals the cells and there is no interaction between the adult and larval wasps.
Some species of wasps, known as parasitic wasps, lay their eggs on or inside other living insect species. The insects act as hosts for the eggs, remaining alive until the point that the eggs hatch. These parasitic species are highly prized for their pest control abilities.
Rodents Rats & Mice
Mouse Infestation Indicators
Common signs that indicate a house mouse infestation is present include tracks, sightings, droppings, and the discovery of furniture or other materials that have been chewed on. It may also be possible to smell if mice are present in a home by the musty odors they produce. Areas that house mice commonly dwell in include undisturbed storage areas, shoe boxes, and closets.
Appearance and Color
The common house mouse is a rodent that has small, beady eyes and ears that are large in proportion to the rest of its body. An adult mouse can weigh up to ½ ounce and can be as long as 5 ½ to 7 ½ inches in length, including a tail that is 3 to 4 inches long. Mice range in color from deep gray to light brown.
House mice carry many serious communicable diseases. Additionally, they feed as frequently as 15-20 times per day, and they can squeeze through spaces that are as small as ¼ inch wide.
Biology and Life Cycle
A house mouse generally lives for nine months to one year. During that time, female mice can reproduce as frequently as 10 times. Gestation is 20 days in length and produces young that are fully mature and ready to reproduce within two months.
House mice are capable of squeezing themselves through tiny dime sized openings. They are excellent climbers and jumpers. In fact, mice can jump 12 inches reaching shelving and other areas that are above the ground. Mice also have powerful senses of smell, touch, hearing, and taste.
A house mouse eats any available food, but it prefer grains like oats, corn, and wheat.
A Norway rat is red or brown in color with a white underbelly. It has coarse fur, small ears, and a tail that is scaled and no longer than the body and head combined.
Length ranges from 10 to 12 inches.
The Norway rat carries several diseases that are harmful to humans. These diseases include bubonic plague, rat bite fever, and typhus fever, as well as other communicable diseases.
Food and Water Consumption
Although the Norway rat prefers grains, fruit, nuts, and meat, it will eat just about anything. Water intake varies based on what kind of food is available. When eating dry foods, the Norway rat consumes ½ to 1 ounce of water per day.
Norway rats are commonly found in fields, woodpiles, farms, and buildings. If they have invaded a building, they prefer living on the ground level or in the basement. Nests are made from shreds of fabric and paper.
Roof rats fur is smooth and usually gray-black or brown in color with black or white-gray underbelly fur. Tails are hairless, scaly, and long. Roof rats are also commonly called ship rats or black rats.
Roof rats are also called “ship rats,” and are notorious for carrying plague and other communicable diseases.Mites and fleas are commonly found in their fur. They are also known to cause considerable damage to stored food and other property.
Roof rats are 16 inches in length from the tips of their noses to the ends of their tails.
These rodents have excellent senses of hearing, taste, touch, and smell, although their sense of sight is quite poor. At three months of age a roof rat has reached maturity and is capable or reproducing. Females have 4 to 6 litters per year with a gestation period of 21 to 23 days. Each litter produces 6 to 12 pups. Preferred foods include berries, fruit, vegetables, pet foods, nuts, grains, decomposing food, snails, and slugs.
Roof rats can be found in garages, sheds and other outbuildings. When they venture indoors, they can be found in ceilings, underneath flooring, and within walls. These rodents are known for their excellent climbing abilities, which is where the name “roof rat” derives from. They oftentimes climb to the tops of buildings and make their homes within roofing structures and in attic spaces.
Glossy exoskeleton; black or dark brown. Entire insect is one color.
Approximately 1/10 of an inch long (2.5 millimeters).
Like most ants, Argentine Ants will eat just about anything; favorite foods include meat, oil, sweet things, and even eggs. Argentine Ants have complex foraging habits and will explore multiple food sources before returning to the nest; most ant species will transport food in a direct line from the food source back to the nest. This particular food-seeking behavior makes it easy to distinguish Argentine Ants from other similar looking species.
A sure-fire way to identify an Argentine Ant is to step on it; you’ll notice a stale, musty scent.
Rotten wood, mulch, and loose soil are the preferred nesting spots of Argentine Ants. Since multiple queens may be present in a population, sub-colonies will be constructed adjacent to the main nest. Shallow mounds up to two inches high identify the entrances to an ant nest.
The two species of Carpenter Ant act the same but look different. C. modoc has a body that’s completely black with minute yellow hairs on its abdomen (last body portion). C. vicinus has a reddish-brown thorax (center body portion) and a black abdomen; this species may have black or reddish-brown legs.
Both C. vicinus and C. modoc cany be between 3/16″ and ½” in length; their relatively large size makes them easy to spot.
Carpenter Ants are named for their ability to hollow out tree stumps and wooden beams. The moist conditions preferred by these ants cause fungi to grow in the wood, which makes it easy for them to chew on.
Both species of Carpenter Ants are most active during spring and summer; peak hours of activity take place between dusk and midnight. Sweet foods such as sugar and honey are most preferred by Carpenter Ants so they’re likely to be spotted in kitchens and pantries. They’re dedicated foragers and will pinch if they’re interrupted.
As their name suggests, Carpenter Ants are most often found in damp woody areas; tree stumps and roots are prime nesting locations, as are piles of decaying wood boards. The damp conditions inside the walls of buildings attract Carpenter Ants, so they’re likely to infest the attics and basements of houses. Any damaged wood gives Carpenter Ants an opportunity to create a new nest.
You can recognize a fire art by its distinctive red body. A fire ant’s coloring may be reddish black or reddish brown; its body has a dull surface. Unlike most ants, fire ants have a stinger that they use to hunt prey and defend themselves.
Fire ants range in length from 1/16 of an inch to ¼ of an inch.
Fire ants are creatures of habit and will follow established foraging trails again and again. They can enter houses via electrical junction boxes, air conditioners, pipes, and other conduits.
Fire ants are known for their aggressive attitude; they attack other insects and even large animals that disturb their colony site by stinging and biting. This species prefers warm weather and dry spaces and are likely to build their nest in a sunny field or similar area. They’re most active in the late afternoon and early evening when temperatures are most conducive to their activities.
Unlike many other ant species, fire ants will hunt for food instead of just forage. They’ll hunt and eat other insects or feed on dead animals. Once fire ants enter a residence, they’ll seek out sweet and fatty foods.
A fire ant colony can be recognized by its distinctive above ground mounds. Each mound may be up to two feet in width and one foot in height. Abandoned lots, open fields, and residential lawns are locations favored by fire ants, though they will avoid shade and damp places. If left alone, fire ant mounds will multiply quickly as new queens create additional colonies.
The ghost ant’s pale color can make it difficult to spot. Its antennae, legs, and abdomen are white or whitish-yellow in color; spots of dull brown can be seen on their heads and thoraxes.
Less than 1/16″; smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen.
The contrasting light and dark patches on a ghost ant’s body allows it to pass unnoticed on just about any surface. On light surfaces, only the dark spots are visible; on dark surfaces, only a hint of white can be seen. This camouflage ability gives the ghost ant its name.
The minuscule size of ghost ants makes them a stubborn home invader. They’re able to enter through poorly sealed windows, tiny gaps in the roof, or cracked foundations. Ghost ants move their colonies from place to place by carrying pupae and larvae to new nest locations. They are known as a “tramp” ant and move in a slow, deliberate manner. They prefer to eat sugar and other sweet foods when inside buildings though in the wild will eat other insects.
Ghost ants will make a nest inside any moist, damp nook they can find; porches are prime locations for nests because the area is sheltered and cool. The small spaces behind kitchen cabinets or underneath baseboards are also likely nesting locations; if ghost ants settle in a building, they’re likely to be seen trailing through bathrooms and kitchens looking for moisture. A single population of ghost ants may contain multiple queens supported by sub-colonies.
Plain dark brown or black.
Odorous ants are between 1/16 and 1/8 inch in length.
When an odorous ant worker is stepped on, it gives off a pungent unpleasant smell similar to rotten coconuts.
This social, highly prolific species of ant will live in colonies that contain up to 100,000 individuals. Like most other ants, odorous ants scavenge for food throughout their territory; they prefer sweet foods and dead insects. The odorous ant is a long-lived species that is native to the U. S.
Odorous ant colonies are frequently found in or around homes and other buildings. They’re attracted to grease, pet food, spills, and exposed food; indoor foraging can be easily discouraged by keeping kitchen surfaces and appliances clear of food debris. In the wild odorous ants will nest in cool, debris-rich spaces such as in logs and under stones.
These small ants have light colored antennae and legs and bodies that are light brown to black.
Between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch in length.
Pavement ants are known for their large foraging groups; colonies can contain up to 30,000 members at one time. They feed on sweet foods such as the honeydew collected from aphids though they’re also known to seek out fatty foods.
Though its name suggests otherwise, the place you’re most likely to spot a pavement ant is in a pet’s food dish.
This ant species is likely to be found anywhere concrete has been laid. For this reason, structures built directly on top of concrete are likely to house a few pavement ants. They will also build nests in the cracks of driveways and sidewalks or under concrete slabs.
Thief ants are an incredibly small ant species that are generally yellow or brownish in color. They have very small eyes and very small stingers on their abdomen. Their abdomen and thorax are connected together by a two-segmented petiole. The worker thief ants have much larger jaws than other thief ants so they can take food back to the nest.
One of the smallest types of ants, thief ants are typically between 0.5 mm (1/32 in.) and 3 mm (1/8 in.) long.
Unlike many ant species, thief ant colonies will often have more than one queen ant. In fact, in larger colonies it’s not at all uncommon to find multiple queens.
Thief Ants are aptly named for their practice of stealing food from other ant colonies. These types of ants build their colonies very near to other ant nests and then take food from those colonies to feed their own.
Like other types of ants, thief ants live in colonies. These nests can have a few hundred ants or a few thousand, depending on the location of the colony. Nests that are located near a ready, reliable food source don’t need as many workers because it’s easier to get food, so these colonies tend to be smaller. This species of ant has even been found living among other types of ants in their colonies. They usually steal food from the other ants and on occasion even take the host ants’ larva for food.
They eat nearly everything, including dead insects or animals, grease, seeds, cheese and more. Thief ants are sometimes called grease ants because they are drawn to it and will eat it anytime they find it. Unlike many other ant species, thief ants don’t seem to be attracted to sweets. When they find a food source, they create a trail from the colony to the food so that the other worker ants can find it.
Due to their incredibly small size and their resilience, thief ants can live just about anywhere. Colonies are often found in homes under floorboards or in the cracks, as well as in rotting logs, underneath rocks or in exposed soil. When thief ants are unable to find one of these types of habitats to build a colony of their own, they will move into another ant colony. The sizes of thief ant nests are relatively large for the size of the ants themselves. The nests typically have tunnels leading to other ant colonies to provide a steady, consistent source of food.
White-footed ants are very dark in color, typically black. The lower segment of their legs is quite pale, almost white. The light portion of their legs is what gives them their common name “white-footed” ants.
This species of ant is very small. Generally they’re only about 1/8 of an inch in length.
When white-footed ants find a food source, many foragers are sent between the source and the nest, which results in heavy trailing. The ants can be seen as a moving, solid black line leading up the side of a building or structure.
White-footed ants are foragers. They send out workers to find food resources and bring food back to the colony. Like many other types of ants, white-footed ants are highly attracted to sweets. In addition to feeding on sweet foods, they also will eat protein and even other dead insects. White-footed ants can commonly be found foraging along trunks of trees, branches and shrubs.
These ants follow lines, both in and on structures, like the edge of a wall, until they find an opening. White-footed ants commonly get inside the wall voids and follow electrical cables throughout the building. They’re often found in bathrooms and kitchens, anywhere that they can find solid or liquid foods.
An ideal nest site for white-footed ants would be close to both food sources and moisture. It would also offer them protection against weather and the environment, as well as against predators. Typically they make their nests at ground level or above it. They’re very common in various locations throughout home landscapes, including in trees, in loose mulch, in bushes, in leaves or other debris, in attics, and within wall voids. More often than not, white-footed ant nests are found outside, not inside structures or buildings.
Cockroaches / Roaches
Brown and red with a slightly yellow colored figure eight on the top of their heads.
Approximately 1 ½ to 2 inches long
American cockroaches can be a public health hazard. This is because they often live around human waste and disease and then travel into homes and commercial buildings. Studies have shown that American cockroaches can carry over 72 types of bacteria, virus, and fungi that have been identified as being capable of producing diseases in humans.
Also known as a water bug or palmetto bug, the American cockroach is a unique species of cockroach. They are excellent flyers and tend to congregate together out in the open instead of hiding in secluded cracks and crevices like other species of domestic cockroaches. American cockroaches typically live for approximately 600 days. During her lifetime, a female American cockroach can produce close to 150 offspring.
American cockroaches prefer warm, damp places. As a result, they are frequently found living near pipes and drains in sewers and basements.
Brown, with lighter colored bands across their wings.
Adults grow to be around 5/8 inch in length.
Living near Brown-banded cockroaches can be hazardous to humans. They can transport bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning and dysentery. Some people can also have strong allergic reactions to these cockroaches. Furthermore, Brown-banded cockroaches can damage home furnishings, foul food, and create a very unpleasant odor.
The Brown-banded cockroach can be a nuisance to humans. Their foods of choice include items like wallpaper and book bindings that have a starchy base. They have even been known to eat household items such as nylon stockings. Brown-banded cockroaches also leave clusters of egg capsules on furniture, window treatments, decorations, and shelves. Each capsule can contain as many as 16 eggs. Each female cockroach can produce up to 20 capsules during her lifetime.
The Brown-banded cockroach favors locations that are warm, dry, and higher up. Unlike other species of cockroaches who are most often found in kitchens and pantries, Brown-banded cockroaches can often be found in every room in a home. They can live without a lot of water but avoid light as much as possible.
The male German cockroach has a more slender body than the female. Both sexes tend to be light brown with two dark streaks that run down their bodies.
German cockroaches frequently leave feces and secretions in food and food products. They can also carry disease-carrying organisms that can sicken humans or cause serious allergic reactions. Some studies have also indicated that humans that live in homes with large numbers of German cockroaches can suffer stress and altered behavior due to the stigma that is associated with a cockroach infestation.
German cockroaches grow to be about ½ inch in length.
German cockroaches are found throughout the United States. They only live for about 100 days but breed continuously throughout their lifecycle. They prefer starchy, sugary foods or grease and meat but may settle for soap, glue, or toothpaste if food is scarce. They have even been known to chew on the wings or legs of other German cockroaches when other food sources are not available.
German cockroaches tend to live exclusively near humans, especially in cold climates. Some studies have even shown that German cockroaches cannot survive in buildings without a central heating system in northern locations. They have a particular propensity to congregate in restaurants, food processing plants, motels, and nursing homes.
The Oriental cockroach has a glossy body that ranges in color from dark brown to black. The female cockroach appears to be wingless although she actually has two small, ineffective wings located slightly below her head. The male Oriental cockroach is narrower in width than the female and has long, brown wings that are sometimes capable of carrying a male for short distances.
The Oriental cockroach has been shown to carry a large number of disease causing organisms. This is due to its tendency to live in sewers and around decaying organic matter.
Oriental cockroaches grow to be around 1 inch in length.
The Oriental cockroach prefers habitats that are low to the ground and locations that are warm and wet. They are slow moving and produce a very distasteful odor. They prefer a diet high in starches but will eat just about anything. Oriental cockroaches often feed off of garbage, sewage, or any rotting organic material.
Oriental cockroaches are sometimes known as water bugs due to their preference for dark, damp places. Some of their favorite interior habitats include sewers and basements; especially areas around drains or other wet locations. Outdoor habitats include in and around bushes and ground cover and under leaves and mulch.
The Smoky-brown cockroach is mahogany in color with a body that is shiny and slightly darker.
The adult cockroaches grow to be slightly longer than 1 inch.
The Smoky-brown cockroach will eat just about any substance. Although they prefer plant matter, they are scavengers by nature and will eat rotting food or vegetation or even droppings from other animals.
The Smoky-brown cockroach is a capable flier and effortlessly moves from trees to buildings and houses. They are often attracted to trash cans, pet food that has been left outside, and to light.
These cockroaches cannot live outdoors in cold climates. They commonly survive colder temperatures by living indoors. The Smoky-brown cockroach also prefers damp, isolated areas and can often be found living around the outside edge of buildings.
The small subterranean termite is easy to recognize once you have spotted one. Reproductive termites are about 3/8 inch long and have a brown or black body and gray wings, while soldiers are slightly bigger at 1/4 inch long and are white in color with a darker head and large black mandibles. Workers are the most common type of subterranean termite. They are only 3/16 inch long and uniformly gray or white.
Ticks are a major carrier of a number of dangerous pathogens. They can transmit such serious diseases as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, and tularemia.
Termite colonies can be found as deep as 10-20 feet underground, and they may infest wood that is either dry or moist. They can penetrate cement slabs by entering through cracks, plumbing perforations, and other holes in the slab.
Some indications of termite infestation include damage to wood, insect swarms, sounds of tapping or rustling from inside the walls of a wooden structure, and the presence of shelter tubes around foundation walls or cracks.
Termites swarm yearly, generally in the late spring or early summer.
Drywood termites can be found in dry wood, structural lumber, and dead tree limbs. During sunny days in the fall, these termites have been known to migrate to nearby structures. While subterranean termites require contact with the soil where they create their colonies, drywood termites do not need contact with moisture, soil, or any water source when building a colony.
Like other termite colonies, drywood termites are hard to detect. One of the easiest ways to detect a termite colony is to look for fecal pellets below the infestations. Worker termites are responsible for leaving the distinct fecal pellets, which are approximately 1/25″ long. While subterranean termites do not leave dry fecal pellets, any pellets that are found are characteristic of a drywood colony. Once they are found, some techniques used to eliminate the termite colonies are chemical spot treatments, heat, microwaves, freezing cold, electricity, and pressure-treated wood barriers.
Drywood termites may be transported in wooden articles and start local, resulting in indoor infestations anywhere.
Structural damage occurs as the drywood termite tunnels through the wood to enlarge the colony. Their tunneling pattern cuts against the grain of the wood, causing the wood’s internal structure to weaken. Eventually, this causes the wood to fail. Although the damage caused by drywood termites seems to progress at a slower rate than other types of termite colonies, they usually cause significant damage before they are detected.
Formosan termites are a pale cream color. Workers are uniform in color with small mandibles. Soldier termites have a larger, darker colored head and large black mandibles.
Swarming termites have long, narrow translucent wings.
Formosan termites are a pest common to the American South; however, smaller colonies of termites have been located in many northern states, some as far north as the border to Canada.
The Formosan termite is originally a native of East Africa. They were introduced to the United States after World War II and were thought to have entered the country by way of sea ports, carried by ships returning from overseas. They travelled and continue to travel throughout the US on cargo shipments cellulose based good such as lumber, paper and wood.
Large colonies of Formosan termites can quickly cause damage to property and goods, and for this reason they have a reputation for being a particularly aggressive species. Formosan termites chew through more than just wood. Once they enter into a crack in cement they may destroy plastic, plaster, tile or even asphalt to gain access to a source of food or water.
Colonies of Formosan termites are quite large compared to the colonies of other species. This mean that they are much more destructive than other types of termites, and are widely considered the species with the most destructive power in the United States.
Formosan termite colonies take three to five years to reach their full size. A colony that starts out quite small may expand to house over a million insects within this time period. Shortly after the colony reaches its full size, winged reproductive “swarmers” set out from it to form new colonies in the vicinity. Swarmers leave the colony by the thousands and attempt to mate with termites from another colony. This most often occurs in the evening after warm, rainy day in the summer or spring.
Pacific dampwood termites are considered to be large. The reproductive forms of these termites are winged, and can grow to more than an inch in size, including the wingspan. While the winged reproductive are dark brown in color, the workers are more of a cream.
The soldiers of the colony have a cream colored body with a reddish brown head. Although they are approximately ¾ inches long, their jaws and head are responsible for one-third of their entire length. In dampwood termite colonies, there are no workers. The immature form of the termites (nymphs) performs the tasks usually performed by the workers.
The dampwood termites require moist, rotten wood in order to create a colony. While subterranean termites require contact with soil, dampwood termites do not. They can be found within the damp wood that they are infesting, and are rarely found in the soil, or in dry wood. There are several causes for termite infestations within the home, including damaged gutters, and leaky plumbing.
A pair of winged swarmers starts a colony of dampwood termites. They find a suitable piece of wood and make a chamber in it. They produce a few eggs the first year. Colonies are usually small, but in ideal conditions, dampwood termite colonies can become large.
They can also be caused by high moisture within the crawl space due to poor ventilation. Storing firewood outdoors for long periods of time can also attract dampwood termites. As the colony matures, winged reproductive termites are produced. These termites can commonly be found swarming immediately after a rainfall in the late summer. Dampwood termites can cause structural damage within water saturated wood.
Termites are known as invisible destroyers as they are often hard to see by the homeowner. This is because they spend most of their time hidden within the wood or soil. Termite swarms coming from the tubes leading to the foundation of the home is an important sign of a termite colony. Dampwood termites in particular leave characteristic fecal pellets, which can be found in damaged wood. These pellets can be used to identify the dampwood termites. It is extremely important to correctly identify the termites because it will determine which control methods to use.
Bed bugs are flat, oval shaped insects. They have vestigial front wings but no hind wings. As adults, bed bugs are light to reddish brown in color. Their abdomens appear to be banded because they’re segmented and covered with microscopic hairs.
Bed bugs can be found all over the world. They’ve been carried far and wide by human travelers, stowing away in luggage, clothes, furniture and bedding.
At maturity, bed bugs can grow from 4-5 mm long and between 1.5 and 3 mm wide.
Carbon dioxide, warmth and certain chemicals all attract bed bugs to their hosts. Their mouths are specifically adapted to pierce skin and they feed on blood. While they’re feeding they inject saliva with anticoagulant properties, like the majority of blood sucking arthropods.
Generally bed bugs feed at night and find shelter during the day, however, they will bite during the daytime if the opportunity presents itself, especially if they have gone without feeding for some time. Bed bugs usually feed every one to two weeks but they can survive for up to a year without feeding.
Depending on the environment, bed bugs’ lifespans range anywhere from about five months to one year.
Since they’re relatively small and flat, unless they’ve recently fed, bed bugs can live and hide in very tight spaces. Humans are their primary source of food so they’re found in just about any place where you can find people. They’re common in even the most unlikely of places, including hospitals, dorms, airplanes, trains, offices, ambulances, libraries, furniture rental stores, even mortuaries. It’s common to find them in places such as in comforters and bed sheets, small cracks close to beds or other furniture, behind the plates of electrical outlets or in between the layers on roll up blinds.
A bite from a bed bug can result in a range of skin manifestations, everything from no visible effect at all to skin rashes and prominent blisters have been reported. Bed Bugs can also cause a variety of health problems, such as allergic reactions, skin rashes and psychological effects. Research has shown bed bugs can become infected by at least 28 different human pathogens. Studies haven’t been able to clearly show whether the insect can transmit a pathogen it’s infected by to a person.
Beetles that attack stored-grain products or household food are also referred to as pantry pests or Stored Product Pests. Once beetles have established themselves inside a food product, the population can explode and move throughout the rest of the home quickly and without notice. Beetles often enter the home from the outdoors, as they typically scavenge for food in the outside environment. Other beetles are transferred into the home in purchased materials.
No home is exempt from the danger of a Stored Product Pest infestation, although good sanitation and food storage methods can help to significantly lessen the chances of an infestation. Food that is spilled or exposed within the home attracts these pests and greatly increases the chances of an infestation. Food should be tightly sealed, with particular care given to foods that are stored for long periods of time. The most common beetles found in household infestations are:
- Drugstore beetles
- Sawtoothed grain beetles
- Merchant grain beetles
- Cigarette beetles
- Flour beetles
- Spider beetles
- Rice weevils
- Granary weevil
- Carpet beetle
Good sanitation is the best way to avoid dealing with a beetle infestation. The following tips will help you to lower the chances of an infestation in your home.
- Avoid leaving spilled food exposed. Cleaning up spills and closing up food products ensures that you will rarely have a problem with these pests.
- If you buy food for storage, buy quantities that you will use over a short period of time. Foods that are stored for six moths or more can become havens for serious infestation problems. Many infestations start in food storage and explode into unmanageable numbers before they are even noticed.
- Cardboard boxes and plastic sacks are particularly vulnerable to beetle infestation because the pests can chew through the material. Stored materials should be placed in tight-fitting containers made of glass or other tough materials. If an infestation does occur in this situation, it will be limited to a single glass jar or container.
- Use storage areas that are cool and dry. If possible, use refrigerated storage for goods that are little used but still important.
- The most frequent spots for infestation problems are dried pet foods, particularly in the case of the drugstore beetle. If your dried pet foods are susceptible to mice, you have a compounded problem. Mice will steal and harbor food in places that can’t be seen such as wall voids or sub-floor spaces. If Stored Product Pests manage to locate the food, it can be incredibly difficult to locate and remove the source of the problem. Pay close attention to how you store dry pet foods.
- When you first notice a problem with Stored Product Pests, you should immediately locate the source and get rid of it. If the source is discovered quickly enough, you may catch it before it spreads to the rest of your home. Thoroughly inspect unopened cardboard boxes for signs of an infestation. If you have the slightest suspicion of a problem, get rid of the suspected source. If it appears that materials is undisturbed and you don’t want to throw it out, use a containment/inspection technique. Place the object in a sealed container, preferably a jar, and inspect it regularly. Sealed plastic bags can also be used, but must be inspected more often because some pests can chew their way out quickly and move on to other sources.
- Clean cracks and corners of storage areas with a vacuum. Clean spills and crumbs from behind and alongside stoves and refrigerators as quickly as possible. Watch the dishwasher area and toaster area for food crumbs. Use hot water and a strong detergent solution to clean storage space, and allow the area to dry. It is not recommended to use strong chemicals to clean these areas.
There are two different kinds of crickets: field crickets and house crickets. Field crickets are slightly larger and black. They can grow to be 1 ¼ inches in length. House crickets, on the other hand are light brown and yellowish in color with three distinct dark brown stripes on their heads. House crickets often do not grow to be any bigger than ½ inch. House crickets prefer warm places and tend to live near fireplaces or in the kitchen. In warmer areas of the country they may also live in garbage dumps.
Some crickets have wings while other species are wingless. The winged crickets hold their wings, which cover approximately 50 percent of their abdomens, against their bodies. All crickets have long antennae that are roughly half of the size of their total body length.
Crickets are nocturnal and are most active during the night. They are also very attracted to lights.
Field crickets eat all types of field crops such as wheat, oats, or rye. Due to this fact, they have been known to cause extensive damage to farmer’s fields. They can also be destructive to textiles like wool, cotton, or furs. If necessary, they also have been known to eat other insects including crickets and grasshoppers. House crickets have a slightly different diet. They will eat just about anything but have a particular taste for beer or sweet vinegar.
They reproduce prolifically much like the cockroach. The female lays her eggs on the ground during the winter. When spring comes, the eggs hatch and the young crickets look much like an adult cricket except they do not have wings. Young crickets have to shed their skin a few times before their wings will develop.
Crickets generally live less than one year. During their lifetime, however, they develop excellent vision and hearing. They have compound eyes which allow them to see in many different directions at the same time. They also have strong back legs that allow them to jump exceptionally high. Many crickets also have small wings on their backs. In most cases, however, these wings do not allow them to fly.
Fleas have a hard, polished body that is dark brown and red in color. They are also covered with hairs and small spines. Their bodies are flattened from side to side so that they can easily maneuver through the hair on a host’s body.
Fleas usually only grow to be about 1/6 inch in length.
At least 13 cases of the bubonic plague that were reported by the Center for Disease Control in 1994 were apparently the result of flea transmission of the plague. Of these 13 cases, one case lead to death. There were another 7 cases, which also included one death, reported in 1994.
Fleas have to live on the bodies of hosts so that they can feed on their blood. They tend to eat and lay eggs while the host is asleep so sleeping areas are likely to be where the greatest infestations are to be found. Recent studies have suggested that fleas are often transported to residential properties by raccoons, opossums, and other types of urban wildlife where pets come in contact with them. When the pets are allowed indoors, the fleas are then transported onto humans or their belongings. Fleas can also propel themselves to new hosts by using their powerful legs to jump over 7 inches high and approximately 14 inches to the side.
The vast majority of fleas, over 95 percent, lives and feeds off of mammals. They live in a variety of habitats including the bodies of hosts, their host’s surroundings, and in burrows and nests. Very few flea species are free-living; although there are a few species found in warm, coastal areas that can live off of a host. Almost all flea larvae, on the other hand, are free-living. Once that have grown to be adults, most fleas live and feed off of humans and pets and then alternately spend time off of their hosts on floors, paths, and on animal and human beds.
The tiny flying insects that you may see that we call “gnats” can be any of many species. Depending on species, gnats can be biting or non-biting and will feed on plants, other insects or blood. Most commonly gnats are simply fruit flies or fungus gnats.
Fungus gnats lay their eggs in damp soil of plants that have been over watered. When the eggs hatch, the immature gnats feed on decomposing, organic material in the soil.
The small size of gnats make it appear as a less serious pest, but gnats reproduce very quickly and can populate infested areas in swarms. Gnats can very quickly become a large problem to homeowners or apartment residents.
The main showing of gnats are sightings adults as they fly about in the air. Male gnats often assemble in large mating swarms or ghosts, particularly at dusk.
Culex species and others
Size & Appearance:
What we commonly call a “silverfish” is a small, wingless insect and gets it’s name from the silvery light grey and blue color, combined with the fish-like appearance of its movements.
Silverfish two small compound eyes and are nocturnal insects. They are typically 13–30 mm (0.5–1 in) long, with abdomens that taper at the end, giving them a fish-like appearance. The newly hatched are more white in appearance, but develop a grey hue and metallic shine as they get older. Silverfish have three long Circe at the tips of their abdomens, one off the end of their body, one facing left, and one facing right.
Silverfish consume matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include book bindings, carpet, clothing, coffee, dandruff, glue, hair, some paints, paper, photos, plaster, and sugar.
Silverfish have long antennae, and move in a wiggling motion that resembles the movement of a fish. This, coupled with their appearance and silvery scales, influences their common name. Silverfish typically live for two to eight years. Silverfish are agile runners and can outrun most of their predators (including wandering spiders and centipedes). However such running is only possible on horizontal surfaces, as they lack any additional appendages and, therefore, are not fast enough to climb walls at the same speed.
Silverfish are a cosmopolitan species, found in Africa, the Americas, Australia, Eurasia, and other parts of the Pacific. They inhabit moist areas, requiring a relative humidity between 75% and 95%. In urban areas, they can be found in attics, basements, bathtubs, sinks, kitchens and showers.
Sowbugs & Pillbugs
Halyomorpha halys – brown marmorated stink bug
They are various shades of brown on both the top and undersides, with gray, off-white, black, copper, and bluish markings. Markings unique to this species include alternating light bands on the antennae and alternating dark bands on the thin outer edge of the abdomen. The legs are brown with faint white mottling or banding. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs, and on the dorsal surface of the abdomen.
The adults are approximately 1.7 centimetres (0.67 in) long and about as wide, forming the shield shape characteristic of other stink bugs.
The brown marmorated stink bug is more likely to invade homes in the fall than others in the family. The bug survives the winter as an adult by entering houses and structures when autumn evenings become colder, often in the thousands. In one home more than 26,000 stinkbugs were found overwintering. Adults can live from several months to a year.
The stink bug’s ability to emit an odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. However, simply handling the bug, injuring it, or attempting to move it can trigger it to release the odor.
They will enter under siding, into soffits, around window and door frames, chimneys, or any space which has openings big enough to fit through. Once inside the house, they will go into a state of hibernation. They wait for winter to pass, but often the warmth inside the house causes them to become active, and they may fly clumsily around light fixtures.
Control of stink bugs is a priority of the Department of Agriculture which has developed an artificial pheromone which can be used to bait traps, Because the bugs insert their proboscis below the surface of fruit, and then feed, some insecticides are ineffective; in addition, the bugs are mobile, and a new population may fly in after the resident population has been killed. In the case of soybean infestations research shows that spraying only the perimeter of a field may be effective. As of 2012, native predators such as wasps and birds were showing increased signs of feeding on the bugs as they adapt to the new food source.
Ticks are arachnids, which means that they share a number of physical characteristics with spiders. Adult ticks have eight legs and lack antennae. Different species can vary greatly in size and color, but their general appearance remains constant.
Ticks are generally classified as “hard” or “soft”. Hard ticks have a head that appears as a separate segment from their bodies, and have a plate of armor known as a shield distinctly visible on their backs. The size of the shield in relation to the body varies depending upon how much blood the tick has consumed.
Subterranean termites depend on access to a water supply for survival. Though they live in nests underground, they are able to access food and moisture on the surface through their unique mud tubes. Exploratory tunnels from a colony may extend a great distance in all directions.
The heads of soft ticks are covered by their bodies and only visible when viewed from below. They lack a shield, and their exoskeleton may feel leathery to the touch.
Depending upon the species of tick, the length of the tick’s body may be anywhere between 1/8 inch and 5/8-inch.
Ticks feed on blood from humans, wild animals, pets, livestock, reptiles, and birds. Almost all species of land animal with a circulatory system can fall prey to ticks. As a parasitic animal, they are dependent upon the blood of their hosts for all their nourishment. Ticks carry a serious risk of disease or infection, which increases significantly the longer the tick stays attached to its host.
Ticks begin life as larvae, which attach to small animals and feed. After they have fed sufficiently, the larvae detach and molt to nymphs, entering the second stage of their lifecycle. Nymphs feed on slightly larger prey until it is time for them to molt again. By the third stage in their lifecycle, ticks are able to reproduce. They attach themselves to one more host, at which point females will lay their eggs.
Though ticks require hosts in order to achieve each successive stage in their life cycle, many species of ticks can go days or even weeks without feeding. The shortest-lived ticks survive for about two months, while the longest-lived may live as much as two years.
Ticks thrive in warm, humid areas. These climates are the most productive for their metamorphoses. They find new hosts by climbing onto a leaf or blade of tall grass and waiting for prospective animal to pass by. Then they detach themselves in the hopes of landing on a viable host.