One of the first steps to eliminating a pest problem is identifying the type of pest you are seeing. Here at Bug Defender Pest Management, we want to help you knock out this step. We have gathered pictures and descriptions of some of the most common pests that you may see. Once you have successfully identified the type of pest you are seeing, give us a call and we will take care of the rest.
Red Imported Fire Ants: vary in size from one-eighth to three-eighths inches. They construct large mounds for nests and administer painful stings.
The acrobat ant is yellowish brown, to red and black to black in color. This species hold their abdomen over there head and thorax when excited. The acrobat ant normally isn’t found inside but may come in at times in search for food. These ants can sometimes be found in decaying wood inside homes.
Carpenter Ants: are 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.
Ant infestation is the most commonly reported pest problem. These tiny scavengers will enter your home or business looking for moisture and an accessible food source. Rotting or damp wood that is moldy can attract ants. Ants also feed on sugar, cheese, meats, vegetables, grease, peanut butter, and dead insects. Ants often enter a home through cracks around windows or doors, but they can find numerous entrances to your home or building.
Pavement Ants: are about one-eighth inch long. They generally make their nests in pavement cracks and are also capable of infesting a building.
Pharoah Ants: are 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. Pharoah Ants also invade restaurants, apartment buildings and similar dwellings.
The odorous house ant is brownish black in color and are 1/12 to 1/8 inch long. Colonies are large and usually contain many active queens. Their nests are found inside and outside. Inside nests are normally under floors and walls. Outside nests are shallow and underneath stone or a board. The odorous house ant gives off a bad odor when crushed. Workers usually forage along regular trails. They prefer sweet foods however honey dew is their primary food.
Bed Bugs were largely eradicated as a pest in the 1940’s, but have made a dramatic comeback in recent years. Bed bugs are flat reddish brown oval shaped insects that favor homes and beds where people sleep. Bed bugs usually feed unnoticed on human blood when people sleep. They can lay 5 eggs a day and usually infest beds, bed frames, and any other sheltered areas they can find in your home. Bed bugs are transmitted from many areas. Hotels are most known but can be found just about anywhere.
Box elder bugs are most commonly found on box elder trees. They measure a 1/2 an inch long. They are black with red markings. They feed on plant matter, and invade homes in large numbers during the spring and fall.
Centipedes are grayish yellow with three dark strips extending along the back. A centipede is only 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. Centipedes prefer damp areas to live in such as cellars, closets, bathrooms, crawls, and attics during warmer months. They lay their eggs in the same damp places. Centipedes forage at night for small insects, spiders, and their larvae. They can be seen actively running across floors, bathtubs, and sinks. If provoked larger centipedes may bite, which may cause swelling and pain. Their bites are not from their mouth but from front legs which look and function like jaws.
Earwigs like moist areas and feed on insects and plants. They can do damage to plants and crops. Earwigs are brownish black in color and have a pair of forceps like pincer on their abdomen. This is used for protection and holding prey.
Fleas are small wingless insects 1/12 to 1/6 inch long, but can be as small as 1/25 to 1/3 inch long. The flea body is covered with spines that project backward which make it easy for them to travel through hairs on a host’s body. Adult fleas have piercing, sucking mouthparts so they can get through the host’s skin and suck blood. Fleas can jump as high as 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally. Flea eggs are barely seen and are only 1/50 of an inch in diameter. Eggs are laid on the host, but can fall off and hatch on ground. A flea can lay up to 200 to 400 eggs in a couple of days and depending on temperature and humidity, eggs can hatch anywhere from 2 days to a week. Fleas feed on all kinds of organic debris and can develop well when they feed on feces of adult fleas. Adult fleas emerge from pupa within 7 to 14 days, but some may not emerge for several months to a year later. Warmth and other signals like walking or a pet stepping on carpet can trigger fleas to hatch. This is why new homes, vacationers, or apartments that had fleas are attacked when they move back in or come home. These vibrations allow the fleas to hatch. Adults are ready to feed right after they hatch. Fleas can carry parasites and disease.
Clothes moths are often found in boxes of old clothing, furs, feather pillows, piano felts, old over-stuffed furniture, carpets, and even lint that collects along baseboards and in corners. The adult Clothes moth is a tiny, buff-colored “miller” that avoids light. The adults do not feed, but their presence does indicate a moth infestation. The larva is a small white caterpillar that lives inside a silken case or web and feeds on wool, hair, fur, and feathers. Damage done will depend upon the type of item being fed upon and the species of clothes moth involved.
Indian meal moths are tan and reddish brown. Their wingspread is about 3/4 of an inch. They feed on all kinds of grains and grain based products. Some of these products are seeds, dog food, nuts, candy, chocolate, and dried fruits. Larva leaves their food supply when ready to pupate and this is where they find a place to spin their cocoons and pupate.
Adult Indian meal moths live less than 2 weeks. This is the most common stored food product moth found in a home.
Millipedes live outdoors in damp places, under decaying leaves, and in outdoor plants. They feed on decaying vegetable matter, new roots, and green leaves. In dry weather they may move into buildings and homes in large numbers. Millipedes are brownish in color and are 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long. Millipedes coil up when resting .
Silverfish are small wingless insects and are silver in color. Silverfish look and move like a fish. Silverfish do a lot of destruction to books, paper photos, clothing, linen, and silk due to their starch content which is their preferred food source.
Sowbugs are gray in color and have several segments on their bodies. The like moist dark areas like basements and feed on dead or decaying plants or animals.
Sowbugs are also called a pillbug because some species roll up into a ball when disturbed.
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, a tick can survive up to a year without feeding.
A female tick must have a blood meal before she can lay eggs. After feeding, she drops off her host and lays thousands of eggs. A female tick lays one batch of eggs, after which she dies. A male tick also dies after reproducing.
There are two established families of ticks: hard ticks 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. Other varieties may take as many as eight stages to develop. The length of time to reach maturity also depends on factors as temperature, humidity and availability of food. With regard to physical characteristics, an immature tick has six legs; a full-grown adult has eight.
Ticks transmit a number of diseases as a result of feeding off both human and animal hosts. Examples include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Q Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis and Meningoencephalitis.
House crickets (Acheta domesticus) are opportunistic omnivores. They reproduce quickly and make loud, high-pitched sounds at night. These sounds are produced when male crickets rub their forewings together to attract females. Research has shown that female house crickets are capable of discerning which cricket is larger through these songs alone. Cricket sounds also vary by species.
House crickets grow up to 2 cm in length. They are light brown in color and feature three stripes on their heads, as well as long, slender antennae. The wings of the house cricket are held flat against the back and are bent at the sides. House crickets are not native to the United States. They have been introduced from Asia trough their use as pet food and fishing bait. Wild populations of house crickets are most common east of the Mississippi River, although there are also concentrations of crickets in Southern California and in Texas.
Cockroaches are among the most common insects and one of the oldest. Fossil evidence dating roaches back 350 million years. They vary in size, color and habits. Although there are over 3500 species of cockroaches, 70 species are found in the United States. Only a few of these infest our homes and we have listed the most common. These species represent most if not all of the most infesting cockroaches.
American cockroaches are sometimes referred to as the palmetto bug or water bug. It is the largest of the common roaches, up to 1-1/2 inches, and reddish brown in color. Females carry egg capsules within a day after it is formed, sometimes glued in a hidden area. This female can produce up to 90 capsules with up to 16 eggs each. They feed on a wide variety of foods but also feed on book bindings, clothing, and paper.
Asian cockroaches are similar to German cockroaches. Asian cockroaches prefer to infest shaded and moist areas in landscapes, ground covers, and grassy areas. These roaches are most active at dusk and only for a few hours. The adults can fly and travel a long distance. They fly towards light, so once inside they can become annoying because they will fly on to TV screens and people.
Brown banded cockroaches are one of the smallest roaches – about 1/2 inch long, light brown and can be distinguished from the German roach by the presence of two lighter, transverse bands running from one side to the other across the base of the wings and abdomen. This female attaches her egg capsule to a protected surface. She produces up to 14 capsules with 18 eggs in each. This roach prefers starchy material, but will eat almost anything.
German cockroaches are the most common cockroach in homes, restaurants, hotels, and other institutions. Adults are pale to medium brown and 1/2 to 5/8 inch long. German roaches can be distinguished by the two dark stripes on the anterior, dorsal portion of the thorax. Adults have wings but rarely fly. The German roach is the only house infesting species that carries the egg capsule for an extended time. The female can produce up to 50 eggs in each capsule. That’s how quick one roach could turn into hundreds. German roaches eat almost anything. They prefer living in cracks and crevices and usually are nocturnal.
Oriental cockroaches are also known as the water bug, black beetle, or shad roach. Adults are very dark brown, nearly black and grow up to 1-1/4 inches. Females produce up to 8 capsules each containing 16 eggs. This roach is common in sewers, drains, and loves damp basements. They feed on all kinds of filth and rubbish and can live without food for 30 days if water is available.
Smoky Brown cockroaches are closely related to the American cockroach but smaller, being slightly more than 1 inch long. A uniform mahogany color. Females produce up to 17 capsules usually glued to a surface with 24 eggs in each. Smoky brown roaches feed on plant material. This roach is common in central Texas and eastward along the gulf coast, throughout Florida and up the eastern coast. Usually not found in Northern United States.
Bald face hornets build large hanging paper nests from trees and structures. Paper nests are made by chewing on wood fiber which is mixed with starch in their saliva. Bald face hornets are black with a white face. They can become very aggressive when they are threatened.
Bumble bees nest underground and are social insects. Bumble bees make tunnels in old mouse holes or abandoned burrows, under stones, or logs, they do not burrow holes in wood. Bumble bees don’t usually cause any problems to humans unless they feel the nest is threatened then they will attack and sting.
Carpenter bees do not eat wood, but do damage both dead wood and structural timber on homes. Carpenter bees are black and yellow in color with shiny black abdomens. They burrow by vibrating their bodies as the rasp of their mandibles against the wood to make perfectly circular holes. The tunnels they make function as a nursery for their young.
Cicada killers are a very large wasp. They measure 2 inches with black or dark brown markings. They nest in the ground and hunt cicadas which are paralyzed by the venom of the wasp sting. The female will then bring the cicada back to the burrow and lay one egg on it where it will remain until spring then emerge as an adult.
Paper wasps are brown and yellow in color and are common wasps. Nests are found in sheltered areas, they appear gray in color and are made with plant fibers mixed with saliva to produce a cone shaped nest for egg laying. Sizes very from small to large. Paper wasp aren’t very aggressive and will only attack if they themselves or the nest is threatened.
Yellow jackets are social insects and are about 1/2 inch long. Yellow jackets build their nests underground most of the time. These underground nests are usually made by some other pest that abandoned the burrow, these nests expand when the colony develops. However, some build their nests in concrete block foundations, rail road ties, and in landscaping. The wasp that nests in structures is known as the German yellow jacket. The structures they are most found in are: wall voids, attics, or crawl spaces. German yellow jackets use the same hole or crack that they found in home or building. Several thousand workers may be produced in one season. They forage on sugars, carbohydrates, beer and some live on prey like: insects, garbage, and carcasses. Yellow jackets peak in late summer early fall. Yellow jackets are to be the most dangerous, for life threatening allergic responses to certain sting victims.
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.
Asian lady beetles/ladybugs are about 1/3 inch long and oval in shape. They can be yellow to red, reddish brown or any shade in between with blackish spots, some have no spots. Asian lady beetles feed on trees and soybeans throughout the summer. These beetles are attracted to light colored homes or buildings especially ones warmed by the sunlight in late autumn and winter. Asian lady beetles work their way into homes and buildings through cracks and crevices and hibernate for the winter in wall voids, attics and other secluded areas. Asian lady beetles become active in late winter and early spring but are usually inactive until trees begin to leaf in spring.
The Carpet Beetle usually lives in lint and debris, including that which collects inside of walls, beneath floors and behind built-in storage spaces. Therefore, exposed areas should be swept frequently. The larva is a fuzzy, slow-moving, light brown or blackish worm about 1/4 inch long. The damage it does is similar to that of the clothes moth larva, but without webbing and the skin which the larva sheads is often found mixed with lint and dust. The Carpet beetle may be found crawling over the same items that are infested by clothes moths, but is more likely to be found in lint swept from beneath the edges of rugs or similar places.
The confused flour beetle is reddish brown and 1/8 inch long. This flour beetle can make its way into sealed containers. The adults can’t fly. The confused flour beetle is found in cereal products, peas, beans, dried fruits, spices and of course flour. They can live up to 3 years and lay 300 to 400 eggs in their lifetime.
The red flour beetle is similar in appearance to the confused flour beetle. The adults can fly. These beetles are also one of the most common beetles found in stored foods in retail stores and homes.
There are many different species of spiders. Spiders have eight legs unlike insects that have six. They also have no antennae or wings. All spiders have jaw like appendages near the mouth; each fang has a small opening where venom comes out to inject into their prey. Spinnerets, which are located at the tip end of the abdomen, are glands from which silk is spun for web making. All spiders use venom when they bite, the only ones dangerous to humans are the black widow, brown recluse, and hobo spider. Still, anyone bit by a spider should bring a specimen to your physician. Outdoor spiders are good for eating other insects. Spiders like moisture and therefore can be found in basements, crawlspaces, and other damp areas. Some like the warmth so you will find them in attics, upper air floor vents and corners of rooms. Most species hide in cracks.
The House Spider builds their tangled web in or near human dwellings, often in secluded areas such as between loose walls, behind open doors, and attic windows. They eat household insects and other invertebrates that get trapped in their web. They are generally dull in appearance, with patterns consisting of brown shades for coloration, often giving a vague spotted appearance that is noticeable on the legs. Their average body size is 1/4 inch long, but can be an inch or more across with legs outspread. They are not usually aggressive and will even let a human hand approach their web.
The Black Widow is widely distributed over the warmer portions of the United States. The females are easily identified because of their globular, shiny black abdomen with two reddish or yellowish triangles on the underside making and “hourglass” marking. The abdomen is usually about 1/4 inch in diameter but may be as large as 1/2 inch when the female is full of eggs. Males are much smaller and lighter colored, with light streaks on their abdomens. The Black Widow venom contains toxins that are neurotoxic, which affects the nervous system.
The Brown Recluse is a soft-bodied and secretive species found in homes (i.e. bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, garages, basements, and cellars) and other outbuildings in the southern, western, and midwestern United States. The adult body varies 1/3 to 1/2 inch in length, with the arrangement of the legs producing a larger overall size of 1 inch in diameter or greater. The body is yellow to dark brown and has a rather distinctive darker brown “violin” shaped mark on the top of the cephalothorax and visible fangs. This spider is not aggressive and usually retreats to cover when disturbed. Most bites occur when a person traps or crushes the spider while putting on old clothes that have been hanging in a garage, or by rolling on the spider while asleep in bed.
Wolf spiders range in body size and color; they depend on camouflage for protection. Wolf spiders are excellent hunters with good eye sight and have a wide range of habitats.
They are unique in the way they carry their eggs, which is in a round globe attached to their abdomen that she carries until they are born. Unlike most spiders wolf spiders do not spin webs and actually hunt for their food.
These spiders are so named for their jumping ability. They can jump many times their length to capture prey or avoid threats and can also walk backwards. These common spiders are about 1/8-3/4 inches long, very hairy, stocky built, and short-legged. Many species have patches of brightly colored or iridescent scales. Some are black with spots of orange or red on the upper surface of the abdomen, and at times are confused with Black Widow spiders. Jumping Spiders are active during the day and prefer sunshine. They normally live outdoors, but they can become established indoors and their hunting activities often center about windows and entry doors where their prey is most common
The Yellow Sac spider is very common in the United States. In the summer months the Yellow Sac spider prefers to live on trees, shrubs, and in low vegetation close to open expanses, such as fields due to there being plenty of food sources in these areas. In the autumn when the food sources start disappearing they will move indoors to find food. Indoors they are often seen on walls and around different constructions. If disturbed it drops to the floor. Yellow Sac spiders lay their eggs in corners of all sorts and are white and spun with silk. These spiders are active in the night, where they wander around to find prey. Also, they do not produce webs.
Flies, typically considered a nuisance, exist in all regions of the United States. 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. This enables them to pick up various kinds of diseases which can be transmitted to people by biting or by landing on food, where the bacteria and viruses are released. Since flies are able to transmit disease so easily, it is necessary to seek insect control quickly. The diseases that they can carry include malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, dengue fever, and more.
Cluster flies resemble the house fly but are larger with golden hairs on the thorax and are sluggish. Their life cycle is 4 to 6 weeks. Cluster flies are found in upper rooms, attics, and window frames. In the fall they hang out in voids of houses and in the walls. On warm days in winter and early spring they leave voids in large numbers. Cluster flies lay their eggs in cracks in the ground, hatched larvae enter in to earthworms in which they develop in 11 to 14 days. When they mature they leave the body of the earthworm and pupate in the ground.
Fruit flies are small flies that can get in through screening, and are common in homes, restaurants, and fruit markets. Fruit flies are about 1/8 inch long with a tan colored head and thorax, blackish abdomen, gray underneath, and bright red eyes. This fly lays its eggs near a surface of fermenting materials like: ripened fruit, dirty garbage cans, rotten vegetables, empty bottles, mops, cleaning rags, and drains. In about 30 hours they will hatch and begin feeding on fermenting materials. Fruit flies can lay 500 eggs and only require 9 to 12 days to develop, which can make them appear in very large numbers. The population of fruit flies builds in the summer. Adult flies can fly up to 6 1/2 miles in 24 hours.
The female house fly begins laying eggs a few days after hatching, she lays a total of 5 to 6 batches of 75-100 white oval eggs. In warmer weather these eggs hatch in 12 to 24 hours into larvae. They then burrow on food material such as: animal manure, garbage, decaying vegetable material and human excrement in which they hatch, in warm weather it takes larvae to grow and pupate in 4 to 7 days. House flies are ready to mate in a few hours after hatching. House flies are 1/4 inch long and dull gray in color with 4 stripes on thorax. The life cycle of the house fly is 7 to 45 days. They rest in corners and edges or thin objects like wires, electrical cords, and strings, night resting places are usually close to their food source. House flies build up their population in late summer and early fall months, some develop indoors throughout the winter.
Phorid flies look like fruit flies but are more humpbacked. They are found mostly in decaying plant and animal matter. Their life cycle is 1-2 weeks. Phorid flies found in structures can breed where ever there is moisture such as: plumbing, drains in kitchen and bath, garbage cans, crawl spaces, and basements. Most activity for Phorid flies is in the warmer months but they can be seen in winter too.
Removing rodents can be difficult. A professional pest management company will identify nesting areas and feeding grounds and know how to completely eliminate them. Proper cleanup is also performed, ensuring that you and your family are safe from allergies, illness and possible future infestation.
Deer mice are excellent jumpers and faster than most other mice. They are brown and white in color and have 2 to 4 litters a year with 3 to 11 young. They can easily over populate and become a nuisance.
House mice are one of the most common home invaders. Mice consume and contaminate food sources and do transmit disease causing pathogens. They range in color from white to black. Mice have 5 to 10 litters of 3-15 a year making them a nuisance.
The Norway rat has been in the United States since about 1775. They weigh about 12 to 16 oz. Their body fur color goes from reddish to grayish brown with white under parts. The mother rat will have a litter of 8-12 pups. Rats can squeeze into holes about 1/2 inch. Rats are great swimmers; they can swim up to 1/2 mile in the water. Rats will swim in sewer lines and can even swim up toilets. Rats can tread water for up to 3 days. Rats climb very well. Also, if they can’t climb up something, they will jump. Rats can jump up to 3 feet. Rats also chew or gnaw through materials like: lead sheathing, cinder block, aluminum, siding, glass, and concrete that wasn’t properly cured.
The wood-destroying insects can damage wood and other building materials in many different ways. Termites, carpenter ants and several "powderpost" beetles are the most important wood-destroying pests overall. See the reference identification table below for a list of the major, and some minor, wood-damaging pests.
Carpenter ants are large black ants that prefer to nest in dead, damp wood and will cause extensive and expensive damage to homes. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood but hollow out sections of wood to nest in. Colony sizes can range upwards into the thousands and are one of the most common wood destroying organisms.
Powderpost beetles are a common wood destroying organism, the larva of these beetles damage wood to a very fine powder like material. Powderpost beetles riddle softwoods and hardwoods with holes they pack with wood dust or frass. Powderpost beetles lay their eggs on exposed wood. Larva are yellowish white with dark mandibles, adults are flattened and reddish brown to black in color. The larva stage is when almost all damage is done to wood; the adults do very little damage.
Termites will search your home for wood fibers. They will squeeze through cracks as narrow as the thickness of a penny. Other ways for them to gain entry are through expansions joints, foundation cracks, and tiny gaps around plumbing and electrical openings. Termites often leave evidence of their presence. Look for small holes, crumbling drywall, and sagging doors or floors. You might see shelter tubes which they build to serve as their passageways. Shelter tubes conceal the termites, provide a moist environment and protect termites from enemies. Also, you may see insect wings; termites shed their wings when they swarm to start new colonies. Damage from termites can go undetected while it grows for years on end, and most homeowner’s insurance will not cover termites. Termites can live for 15 years, lay 1 egg every 15 seconds, and can destroy an entire house in about 2-3 years.