Description: The worldwide number of cockroaches is an estimated 3,500 species. German cockroaches, one of the most common residential roaches are ½ to 5/8 inches long when mature, light brown to tan, and have fully developed wings.
Biology: All cockroaches undergo a gradual metamorphosis that is characterized by three distinct stages- egg, nymph, and adult. For most species, females produce an egg case, in which a number of eggs are lined up in two equal rows. With each molting of the exoskeleton, the cockroach nymphs grow in size and reach adulthood after several months. The adult stage is usually winged although in some species, the female has vestigial wings.
During her lifetime, the female German cockroach produces four to eight egg capsules each of which contains 30 to 40 eggs. The female carries the egg capsule partially within her abdomen until just before the nymphs are ready to emerge
Habits: German Cockroaches are the most common household insect within the U.S. This pest typically infest kitchens and bathrooms but will live anywhere inside heated structures in which there is food, water, and harborage. They rarely are found outdoors and then only during warm weather. German cockroaches gain entry into structures in grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink cartons, infested equipments such as used fridges, toasters, and microwaves. Cockroaches feed on all types of human foods, pet food, toothpaste, soap, glue, etc. German cockroaches are active at night, leaving their harborage to find food and water. They remain hidden in dark, secluded harborage areas. At most – only one third of the population forages at night. Observation of foraging cockroaches during the day is a good indication that there is a tremendous population.
Description: There are many different kinds of ticks with deer ticks being the most common. Deer ticks are hard ticks, 1/16 to 1/8 inches long, and orange-brown except for the head, shield behind the head, and legs which are dark reddish-brown. Their mouthparts are easily seen when viewed from above. Their bodies are flattened and shaped like a tear drop.
Biology: During the winter, adults feed on deer. In the spring, engorged females drop off of the host animal and lay 3,000 eggs in a protected area. The eggs hatch in 48-135 days, and from June through September, the larvae seek and feed on small rodents. After molting to the nymph stage, the ticks once again seek hosts and feed only once for three to nine days on larger animals such as raccoons, opossums, and squirrels. Nymphs are found from April through August of the following season. After 25-56 days, engorged nymphs molt to the adult stage which usually feed on deer. Adults live long enough to mate and for the female to lay eggs and then die.
Habits: This tick is a three-host tick, i.e., they require different and successively larger host animals in order to complete development. The larvae and adults commonly infest white-footed deer mice and deer. However, the nymphs have a much wider range of hosts, including humans. It is this stage which is responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease, the most significant tick-borne disease in the U.S. Annually more than 10,000 people are infected with this disease.
Description: Cat and dog fleas can be found in the same area, they are very similar in appearance. They are small in appearance. They are small, 1/8 inch long, wingless, laterally flattened, and have piercing-sucking mouthparts. The flea has very well-developed legs allowing it to jump at least six inches straight up. They are black-to-reddish brown.
Biology: Cat and dog fleas undergo complete metamorphosis. After each blood meal, females lay four to eight eggs at a time (but 400 to 800 total within her lifetime) on the host animal and/or its bedding. The eggs fall into the nest and or bedding of the host animal or wherever the animal happens to be at the time. The eggs hatch in about 10 days and the developing larvae feed on the adult flea feces which contain bits of dried blood.
Habits: Adult fleas feed on blood with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. They typically seek a blood meal within two days of becoming an adult. Cat and dog fleas prefer these two animals but readily feed on other animals (raccoons, rats, and humans). Adult fleas remain on the host throughout their lifetime but are occasionally knocked off the animal by scratching.
Description: Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects about 3/16-inch long or the size of an apple seed. They appear swollen and reddish after a blood meal. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye. The name ‘bed bug’ is derived from the insect’s preferred habitat infesting houses and especially beds or other common areas where people may sleep.
Biology: Females can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime. Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, bed bugs can live over 300 days.
Habits: Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices including mattress seams, sheets, furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames. Often found in hotels, where they can travel from room to room and in visitors luggage.
Bedbugs are bloodsucking insects. Though they are not strictly nocturnal, bed bugs are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Their peak feeding period is about an hour before sunrise. Bedbugs may attempt to feed at other times if given the opportunity and have been observed feeding during all periods of the day. They reach their host by walking, or sometimes climb the walls to the ceiling and drop down on feeling a heat wave. Bedbugs are attracted to their hosts by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide. The bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow feeding tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents, and the first indication of a bite usually comes from the desire to scratch the bite site. Although bedbugs can live for a year or eighteen months without feeding, they normally try to feed every five to ten days. Blood spotting on mattresses and nearby furnishings are also signs of a bedbug infestation.
Description: Eastern subterranean termites are found from Ontario southward and from the eastern U.S. seaboard as far west as Mexico. Termites are social insect which live in large colonies. There are three castes: reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Termite antennae have bead-like segments. The winged reproductive’s have a pair of equally-sized longed wings that are attached to the last two thoracic segments. The wings break off after swarming. The soldiers are wingless with white bodies, rectangular yellow-brown heads which are two times longer than their width, and have large mandibles which lack teeth.
Biology: A mature queen produces 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year. An average colony consists of 60,000 to 250,000 individuals but colonies numbering in the millions are possible. A queen might live for up to 30 years and workers as long as five years. Colonies are established by winged reproductive’s which usually appear in the spring. Swarms usually occur in the morning after a warm rain. A male and female that have swarmed from an established colony lose their wings and seek a dark cavity inside which they mate and raise the first group of workers. Both of these reproductives feed on wood; tend the eggs, and build the initial nest.
After the workers mature, they take over expanding the colony and feeding the reproductives. As the colony becomes larger, light colored supplementary reproductives are produced to lay eggs which then become workers. The soldiers, who are also produced as the colony increases in size, are responsible for repelling invading ants and other predators.
Habits: Subterranean termite colonies usually are located in the soil from which the workers build mud tubes to structural wood where they then feed. Subterranean termite colonies are always connected to the soil and/or close to a moisture source. Termites digest cellulose in wood. The workers prefer to feed on fungus-infected wood but readily feed on undamaged wood as well. The foraging workers feed immature workers, reproductive’s, and soldiers with food material from their mouths and anuses.
Description: Mosquitoes are distinctive from flies because of their long “stinger” and scales on the back and veins of their wings. Mosquitoes have slender bodies with long legs. While their size varies by species, most mosquitoes are smaller than 15 millimeters in length and weigh less than 2.5 milligrams. Although mosquitoes appear fragile, they are extremely resilient insects that prey on a variety of animals.
Biology: Male mosquitoes feed on plant nectar alone, while females extract the blood of hosts in order to develop and nourish eggs. Females are capable of flying for miles if necessary and can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. After she lays a batch of eggs, the female will seek another host for a blood meal.
Most mosquitoes lay their eggs directly into water. Others lay their eggs near bodies of water but not within them. The length of the mosquito life cycle varies between species and is dependent upon environmental conditions such as temperature and moisture. However, the life cycle of all mosquitoes is comprised of the egg, larva, pupa and adult stages. Larvae and pupae cannot survive without water. If a water source evaporates before the larvae and pupae within it transform into adult mosquitoes, those young will die.
Eggs will hatch into larvae within 24 to 48 hours. Larvae soon grow to become approximately 1/4-inch in length. Most larvae breathe through air tubes. Larger larvae can be seen floating just above the surface of infested waters. Within seven to 10 days, larvae enter the pupal stage. Pupae are also visible upon the surface of the breeding site. After a mosquito is fully developed, it will emerge as an adult from its pupal case. At this time, the new adult stands upon the water and dries its wings to prepare for flight. Adult female mosquitoes will then seek an animal on which to feed.
Mosquitoes undergo four distinct life cycle stages: egg, larval, pupal and adult. The length of the first three stages varies by species and depends upon environmental conditions. Some mosquitoes have a life span of only four days, while others survive winter to lay eggs in spring.
Habits: Mosquitoes typically remain within a one-mile radius of their breeding site. Mosquitoes have poor eyesight. They cannot see objects more than 30 feet away from them and cannot easily distinguish between objects of similar size and shape. However, their sense of smell is highly efficient and they can locate hosts within a wide area. Their antennae also contain sensitive thermal receptors, which are used to locate blood near skin surfaces.
Only the female mosquito is equipped with the piercing-sucking mouthparts. A female specimen possesses a serrated proboscis, which reduces nerve stimulation in bite victims. Mosquito bites result in red, white-ringed bumps that may bleed if scratched. While the bite of a mosquito is rarely painful, these insects are vectors of many important diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and the West Nile Virus. They also carry several encephalitis strains and transmit heartworms to cats and dogs. Mosquitoes do not feed on blood, but collect it in order to use its protein in developing eggs. Most mosquitoes prefer birds and herbivorous mammals other than humans as hosts.
Description: Adult earwigs are ¼ to 1-inch long, dark brown to black, with a red head and pale yellow-brown legs. Earwigs usually have two pair of wings, the hind wings being fully developed and folded beneath the short, leathery front wings. The most notable characteristic are the pincher-like appendages at the end of the abdomen, the forceps.
Biology: The females lay several batches of approximately 50 eggs in a nest. The nest is usually a shallow depression beneath a board or stone. The eggs laid in the winter hatch in about 72 days; those laid in the spring hatch in 20 days. The nymphs look much like the adults and molt four to five times before becoming adults, which takes about 56 days.
Habits: Earwig females are interesting because they display a mothering instinct, protecting the nest and the nymphs until they have reached their second molt. Earwigs usually live outdoors. They feed on plant material. They are very general feeders and seldom do a great deal of damage to any particular plant. They are active at night, hiding during the day under stones and other objects. Earwigs are outdoor insects which become household pests when they invade structures, usually in the fall or at night. Indoors, they are usually found in cracks and crevices and under furniture and carpeting.
Description: The newly hatched silverfish nymphs look exactly like tiny adults, and therefore it is known that these are insects that undergo simple metamorphosis
Biology: Silverfish, depending on the species, can lay from 1000 to 3000 eggs over a period of two to five years. The eggs hatch anywhere from three weeks to two months.
Habits: The main damage done by silverfish, inside of homes or other structures, is damage to paper goods, they feed on starches. They may feed behind wallpaper on the starchy paste used to glue it to the wall, or in the bindings of books on the dried glue they can find there. Old documents composed of parchment or other starchy paper can be ruined, along with family pictures that have been stored away. Silverfish are not new on the scene, and in fact are some of the most ancient of insects.
Description: House crickets are about ¾ to 7/8 inches long and yellow-brown or straw colored with three dark banks across the top of the head.
Biology: Outdoors, female house crickets lay on average of 728 eggs in protected areas. Eggs are in the overwintering stage outdoors. The eggs hatch in late spring, and nymphs reach the adult stage by late summer. House crickets in the wild have only one generation per year.
Habits: House crickets are seldom a major problem in structures as they prefer to live outside during warm weather. They move indoors when it gets colder and to find moisture. House crickets damage clothing and other fabrics including synthetics. They eat large holes in fabric as opposed to smaller holes caused by common fabric pests. Some people object to their presence and the chirping noise produced by males as they rub their wings together. Crickets are active at night, hiding in dark warm places during the day. They are attracted to lights, often by the thousands.
Box Elder Bugs
Description: Adult box elder bugs are ½-inch long and brown-black with three red stripes on the thorax and red veins in the wings.
Biology: The adults overwinter in dry, protected locations, emerging in the spring to lay small, red eggs in the cracks and crevices in the bark of box elder trees. The nymphs hatch in approximately two weeks when new leaves appear. The young bugs suck the juice out of the tree leaves and twigs with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. They molt five times before becoming adults. In warm climates, these bugs have two generations per year.
Habits: They prefer to feed on the leaves, twigs, and seeds of female Box Elder trees and also on Maple, Ash, and the young fruit of grapes, apples, and plums. Box Elder Bugs do little apparent damage to the box elder tree; they just become a nuisance around structures when they attempt to enter to find overwintering sites. Their migration begins in the autumn when they congregate on the south side of structures, rocks, and trees in areas warmed by the sun. They then may fly to an adjacent building, enter it, and hibernate for the winter. Indoors, their droppings stain drapes, curtains furniture, sheers, and other materials where they rest. If handled, Box Elder Bugs can bite, and when crushed, they emit a strong disagreeable odor.
Description: Adult furniture carpet beetles are 1/16 to 1.8 inches long. The underside of the body is white.
Biology: Adult females lay about 30-100 eggs in areas where the larvae are able to feed. The eggs hatch in nine to 19 days, and the larvae develop from 70 to 94 days before pupating in their last larval skin. The adults emerge from the pupal skin in 9 to 19 days and may live for another 60 days. Development from egg to adult is 90 days to two years.
Habits: This insect is found world-wide. It gets its name from its habit of feeding on the hair padding, feathers, or woolen upholstery of furniture. It also feeds on wool, hair, fur, feathers, bristles, horn, tortoise shell, silk, insects, dried carcasses, dried cheese, dried blood, glue, and book bindings. It damages linen, cotton, jute, softwood, and leather when these items are soiled.
Description: Springtails are very small, whitish-gray or light-colored insects, measuring 1/32-1/8 inches long. They get their name from a forked appendage attached to the end of the abdomen which can be bent under the body and, when released helps the insect to “spring-forward” much like a flea.
Biology: Females lay eggs singly or in clusters in moist areas. The immature springtails undergo five to ten molts before they become adults. The adult continues to molt up to 50 times through its life with no increase in size after the fifteenth month. Developmental time (egg to adult) requires two to three months, and can be as long as 2 years.
Habits: Springtails are always found in very moist situations. Outdoors, their populations can reach as many as 50,000 per cubic foot of soil. They are typically associated with leaf litter, mulch, firewood, landscape timbers, potted plants, railroad ties, etc. Nineteen different species of these insects have been found to invade homes and buildings, doing so when their living area becomes too dry and they need a moisture source.
Some are small enough to enter through window screens. They can be found in sinks, and basins, floor drains, and sweating pipes, in moist basements, crawlspaces, on moldy furniture, and in the soil of potted plants. One species has been associated with itching skin of people who work in areas where large numbers of springtails are found. Many times this dermatitis is mistakenly blamed on fleas because of the way the springtails hop about.
Description: Clover Mite adults are about 1/64- inch long and reddish brown to olive green in color. Their body shape is similar to that of ticks.
Biology: Females are parthenogenetic, laying eggs without fertilization by a male. Approximately 70 eggs are deposited in the fall in protected locations on building foundations and under the bark of trees. The eggs do not hatch unless the temp is between 40 and 70 F. In the spring, they hatch into the six-legged larval stage which then molts into the protonymph followed by the deutonymph. Developmental time (egg to adult) takes from one to seven months depending on environmental conditions.
Habits: Clover Mites are plant feeders that have been found infesting more than 200 different plants. They can overwinter as adults, or eggs. They build up very large populations around structures surrounded with lush, well-fertilized lawns and shrubbery. They often move into buildings in tremendous numbers in the autumn when vegetation begins to die. In the spring, large numbers indoors usually is the result of recent mulching and the onset of higher temperatures. If crushed, they leave a red stain on walls, floors, or furnishings.