Pest Control – Common Pests

The German cockroach is probably the most economically important pest. It is the most common cockroach in a home or business. The German cockroach can be found in homes, apartments, hotels, motels, restaurants, and other places throughout the United States and other countries. Other cockroaches might be found more in the country’s southern areas, but the German cockroach is by far the most common species infesting homes and other areas. The adults are about 1/2 to 5/8 inches long and have two dark stripes. Both sexes have wings but do not fly. Males can be distinguished from females by the tapering shape of the abdomen. German cockroach babies, called nymphs, look like adults, except they are smaller, have no wings, and are darker in color, sometimes even black. One stripe running down the middle of the back is a prominent marking of the younger German cockroach nymph. The female German cockroach carries the egg capsule from her rear until the eggs are ready to hatch. The German cockroach is the only house-infesting species with an egg capsule this long. This makes it the most resistant cockroach in the United States because predators are less likely to be taken by predators. Adult females can produce 4 to 8 egg capsules in their lifetime. Each capsule contains 30 to 48 eggs. It usually takes 20 to 30 days from the initial formation of the first egg capsule until it hatches. There are 6 to 7 nymphal stages, called instars, until they molt into adulthood. The nymphs have habits as adults. They are primarily active at night and hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Seeing German cockroaches during the day is usually an indication of overpopulation. All cracks and gaps are full, or food is in short supply, and they are stressed. German cockroaches typically hide in areas with ample food and moisture, such as kitchens and other food areas. Still, they can be found in other places if they are stressed and as a result of a repellant insecticide somewhere else in the building or home. German cockroaches are attracted to fermented foods and beverage residues. Adults can live about a month without food if water is present, but young nymphs will die of starvation within ten days. Without food or water, the adults will die in about two weeks. In apartment complexes or duplexes sharing the same standard plumbing lines, infestations can occur in both apartments or duplexes. Treating these areas is a must with insecticides or dust formulations injected into walls of adjoining apartments.

Ring-Legged Earwigs are usually about 12 mm long and must live in moist and humid conditions. The earwigs dig themselves into the soil in fall and hibernate under the ground. They can cause damage and eat mainly plants, leaves, and flowers. If you are suffering from a large group of these creatures, you may see your garden flowers begin to die. – The shore earwig is often confused with the giant St. Helena earwig. Both are relatively large, around 80mm. – This species is 12-15 mm long and lives throughout the United States. It has yellowish legs with rings, after which the animal has been named. The Ring-Legged Earwig is dangerous to produce Irish and sweet potatoes in storage.

Fleas are blood-sucking insects that feed on warm-blooded animals. They are between 1½ – 5 mm in length, oval (when viewed from the side), and very thin/flat, which enables them to move quickly through the hairs of their host. Fleas are brown and have strong hind legs adapted for jumping. Female fleas lay eggs on their host or in animal nest/bedding. The eggs pass through normal insect stages of egg, larva, and pupa. The adult flea only emerges when stimulated by vibration, such as an animal or human walking by. Adults can stay in their pupal stage long before arising, and both the pupae and the adults can survive 8 to 12 months without a host to feed on. This explains why houses that have been empty for long periods can harbor active fleas long after the host, such as a domestic cat, has left. There are several species of fleas, including human, cat, and dog fleas. Although each species has a preferred host, cat and dog fleas can be found on other animals, including humans. Of all the species, the cat flea is probably the most commonly found in domestic situations – practically all cats will pick up fleas at some time, so it is wise to take precautions, such as fitting with a flea collar.

Pigeon control is necessary due to the damage and disease problems these birds often create. The uric acid in pigeon feces is highly corrosive and can cause extensive damage to metals and other substrates it sits on for long periods. Debris from flocks of problem pigeons often builds up, backing up gutters and drains, which can cause flooding and roof damage. Nesting materials and other debris have caused failures in machinery, especially rooftop air conditioning units which are a prime nesting spot for pigeons. Other frequent pigeon problems include slip and fall liability from feces or debris, plus an unclean, dirty company image. The bacteria, fungal agents, and ectoparasites found in pigeon droppings are responsible for serious diseases, including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, toxoplasmosis, and more. Pigeons also carry ectoparasites, for example, fleas, lice, mites, ticks, and other biting pests.
Many companies also retain significant clean-up costs due to the pigeon problems they don’t resolve. The pigeons around airports threaten human safety due to a possible bird-aircraft collision. The U.S. Air Force considers pigeons a “medium priority hazard” to jet aircraft.

We also have two species of mice that cause problems. The House Mouse and the Deer Mouse. – The house mouse looks somewhat like a young roof rat but smaller. It is approximately 5-1/2 to 7-1/2 inches in total length. Like the roof rat, its tail is as long or longer than the head and body combined. However, mice have proportionately smaller heads and feet than those roof rats. The color of the house mouse depends upon its habitat; if it lives indoors, it will usually be dark gray with a light gray stomach; outdoors, it will usually be a sandy brown color. House mice do not pose as serious a problem to the householder as rats, but they can be quite a nuisance. They also eat and contaminate food with their urine and droppings; they may gnaw on wiring, creating a fire hazard, and they can transmit some diseases. The Spread of diseases by mice, however, is not considered a serious health hazard. – This wide-spread, native rodent is another medium-sized mouse, averaging 7 inches in total length. The tail is longer than the head and body combined. The upper body is shades of brown with white sides and underparts (including chin and throat). The tail is strongly bi-colored. Deer mice have been identified as occasional vectors of Lyme Disease and the Hanta Virus. They should be controlled around human habitation where these diseases are.

The overall size of an opossum’s head and body- is 3-20 inches, tail- is 4-20 inches. There are more than 65 kinds of opossums in North and South America. But only one kind plays possum, Virginia, or common opossum of North America. The phrase “playing possum” comes from this animal’s ability to appear dead when an enemy approaches. The opossum will lie still as if it is quiet, with its eyes closed or, when opened, staring and without blinking. Its tongue hangs from the side of its mouth, and it will still play dead if moved by the animal or tossed about.

Silverfish are always wingless and are silvery to brown because their bodies are covered with fine scales. They are generally soft-bodied. Adults are up to 3/4 inch long, flattened from top to bottom, elongated and oval, and have three long tail projections and two long antennae. Primarily a nuisance pest inside the home or buildings; can contaminate food, damage paper goods, and stain clothing; medically harmless. Many of their habits resemble cockroaches and appear more common as household pests in drier parts of the state. Occasionally damage book bindings, curtains, and wallpaper.

A typical yellow jacket worker is about 12 mm (0.5 inches) long, with alternating bands on the abdomen. At the same time, the queen is more prominent, about 19 mm (0.75 inches) long (the different patterns on the abdomen help separate various species). Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger with tiny barbs and typically sting repeatedly, though occasionally, the sting becomes lodged and pulls free of the wasp’s body. All species have yellow or white on the face. Mouthparts are well-developed for capturing and chewing insects, with a proboscis for sucking nectar, fruit, and other juices. Nests are built in trees, shrubs, and protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, sheds, under porches and eaves of houses) or soil cavities, mouse caves, etc. Nests are made from wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp.

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