Pest Control Library

Find the pest you're dealing with and learn more about how to deal with the problem.

Ants: Carpenter Ant

Ant: Carpenter Ant

Identification:

Worker size varies between 1/8-1/2 in (3.5-13 mm) long; queen may be up to 5/8 in (17 mm) long. The common western species is dull black with reddish legs and golden hairs covering the abdomen. Other species are black, a combination of red and black, or completely red or brown.

Behavior:

Carpenter ants enter near doors and windows, pipes, utility wires, and branches of trees or shrubs. Carpenter ants hollow out spaces in wood to use as nests. Most species nest first in decayed wood and then enlarge the nest into sound wood. Indoors: nests are in wood (perhaps softened by fungus rot), insulation, wall voids. The hollowing of wood for nests can weaken a structure. Outdoors: nests are in old firewood, rotting fence posts, stumps, dead portions of living trees, under stones and logs. A colony has a main nest connected to satellite nests by a cleared trail about 1/4 inch wide.

Treatment Options:

Treatment Options:

Preventive measures include barrier treatment, pruning of plants near buildings, caulking of gaps, and treating the lowest 3-6 ft. of tree trunks and utility poles.

The parent colony must be located and destroyed by treating directly with an appropriate registered pesticide. This may require drilling into wood or wall voids.

Ants: Pavement Ants

Ants: Pavement Ants

Identification:

Pavement Ants are small pests ranging from 1/16 to 1/8 inches in length and are either brown or black in color. Queens are larger about 3/8 inches and have wings. These ants have two nodes between middle and rear body segments.

Behavior:

The pavement ant earns its name building nests beneath and along the sides of pavement: patios, driveways, sidewalks, foundations of homes. These pests can also be found inside of homes (and other structures) in wall voids, beneath toilets and water heaters. They also will readily nest in and beneath insulation in walls and attics. Outdoors, you will see pavement ants nesting beneath mulch, landscaping, stones and logs, and also along curbs. The ant beds usually appear as piles of misplaced soil, without a distinctive appearance. These loose piles of soil occasionally will have a slight crater appearance. The small ants feed on a variety of foods, including grease, sweets, seeds and dead insects. Pet foods or any food dropped on the floor will quickly be covered with pavement ants.

Treatment Options:

Pavement ants may be treated with baits and sprays. Dusts can also be effective as well as aerocides. Eliminating food and water sources can be very helpful as well. Pavement ant swarmers occasionally emerge with wings and can be mistaken for termite swarmers. If this occurs identification is crucial for treatment and you should call a professional exterminator.

Ants: Pharaoh Ants

Ants: Pharaoh Ants

Identification:

The Pharaoh Ant can be identified by looking at the color and size of its body. Pharaoh ants are usually pale colored. They are usually yellowish to reddish and their abdomen is a darker color. Size- 1.5-2.0 mm long. Males are winged and black in color and queens (females) can either be winged or not and they are usually darker than the workers.

Behavior:

Pharaoh Ants work in colonies up to several hundred-thousand and they build nests in many areas. They can build nests in walls, cabinets, behind baseboards, window moldings, behind insulation appliances, inside hollow curtain and shower rods, and also in boxes. Pharaoh ants can even be found in stacks of newspaper or folded paper. Pharaoh ants will nest in any dark structure or place. In the outdoors they can be found in leaf litter, flower pots, and in the debris of rain gutters.

Treatment Options:

Since pharaoh ants nest in dark areas, be sure to check all dark places and structures. Then remove any structures that have been infested with the ants. Spraying the ants will sometimes do more bad than good because while 5% of the colony is out getting food, the remaining 95% will just become stressed and split into two or more new colonies. When the ants split it is known as budding. The best way to usually get rid of pharaoh ants is to place baits around the nesting areas. The baits must be where they can make contact and feed or else the baits will not work.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

Identification:

Bed bugs are hard to identify because they are very small, but they are still visible to the naked eye. For instance, if there were bed bugs in your bed you would be able to see them. They would look like tiny specks, these specks can be droppings, however you should notice movement once the insects have been disturbed. To further identify if they were actual bed bugs, they would need to be looked at under a microscope by a professional.

Behavior:

Bed bugs can be highly annoying due to their biting and difficulty to control. They typically burrow in bedding and upholstered furniture or carpets. In extreme cases these insects can be seen on wall, furniture, and will even hide in electronics. Bed bugs bite and irritate your skin, they leave little red marks that itch and sometimes hurt. If there is a bed bug infestation, it needs to be dealt with right away because bed bugs can stay on your clothes and skin, multiply quickly and spread fast. Then, they can spread to other places in your house as well as other areas where you go. They often travel from place to place on the their hosts or in furniture or appliances that are infested. Bed bugs can go up to two full years without a blood meal, which makes it very crucial to be thorough with control measures.

Treatment Options:

Bed bugs can be treated a number of ways. Mattress covers can be useful, as well as pesticide treatments. In some cases when the insects have not left their main nesting area, removal of infested mattresses or furniture can prove effective. Generally the most effective means of control is a combination of pesticide sprays, cleaning, vacuuming, and heat treatments. The process is extensive and can be very labor intensive, and multiple treatments over a period of months are usually required to eliminate the infestation. In some cases, fumigation may be necessary. This process is very costly and does not protect against re-infestation.

Bee: Carpenter Bee

Bee: Carpenter Bee

Identification:

Carpenter bee adults are about 1/2 to 1in (12.5-25 mm) long, robust..Carpenter bees are found around the world, with 7 species in the United States. Carpenter bees are similar to bumble bees, except that their abdomens are usually bare and shiny on top. Bumble bees have hairy abdomens with some yellow marks.

Behavior:

Although they do not form colonies, carpenter bees bore holes in wood to make places to rear their young. They prefer weathered wood. After mating, the female carpenter bee bores a hole straight into wood, then turns and follows the grain of the wood, in order to make a gallery in which to lay eggs. She may use an old gallery from a previous year, or extend an old gallery. Beginning at the closed end, she lays an egg onto a mass of pollen and partly digested nectar, then seals it with chewed wood-pulp. She continues to do this once a day for 5-6 days. Mating is in the spring after individuals have overwintered in old tunnels. The survivors feed on nectar. Development from egg to adult takes 1-3 months.

Treatment Options:

The best treatment for Carpenter Bees is residual dust. The purpose is to get the dust to float deep into tunnels. The dust will get on their bodies and be either absorbed, or consumed into their digestive system. If the tunnels remain dry , the dust can last for several months.

Bee: Honey Bee

Bee: Honey Bee

Identification:

The Honey bee adult worker is 1/2-5/8 in (11-15 mm) long; queen is 5/8-3/4 in (15-20 mm) long. The pointed abdomen extends beyond the wing, and has a smooth stinger. Drones are 5/8 in (15-17 mm) long, with no stingers. Honey bees have hairy eyes; the first segment of the hind tarsus is enlarged and flattened. Their color is orange-brown to sometimes black; body covered with pale hairs.

Behavior:

Workers are females that lay eggs which do not get fertilized and develop into males. A queen lays eggs which do get fertilized and develop into females. Drones are males from unfertilized eggs of the workers. Drones fertilize the queen's eggs. The queen mates once, and can lay 1,500-2,000 eggs in a day. Eggs hatch in 3 days as larvae (grubs). They are first fed "royal jelly", made in the workers' mouths, which is later only fed to future queens. Young workers tend the brood, build the comb, ventilate the hive, guard the entrance. Older workers gather pollen, nectar and "bee glue", a waxy substance from tree buds. Workers live for 5-7 weeks in summer, except ones that develop in autumn and overwinter in the hive. Drones live only a few weeks. Swarming occurs when the colony gets too big, or when the queen begins to fail. Swarms go to a tree branch 1-2 days until finding another hive, hollow tree, or wall, where there is shelter. Honey bees are beneficial, providing honey and wax, and pollinating flowers which produce fruit and seed. They are defensive, not aggressive, attacking to protect colony. Swarming bees have no reason to attack, since they are not defending a hive. Foraging workers are not likely to sting unless provoked. However, stings can be painful, sometimes severe. Remove barbed stinger with fingernail or knife blade; do not rub or scratch; clean. (Africanized honey bees sting much more readily, even when swarming, and may pursue up to 300 feet.)Honey bees enter structures through cracks and may build hives in walls. Keep lawns free of white clover and flowering weeds. Prevent access by bees to food, water, or sugary substances.

Treatment Options:

Live removal is best, even from walls and attics. A beekeeper captures the bees in a decoy hive, kills the queen, removes stragglers, and allows the bees to remove the honey.

Treat nest void with repellent to prevent visits by moths and beetles.

If honey bees in a wall or attic must be killed, locate the entrance/exit being used, and search for the nest. At night tap on the wall near the buzzing, to find out where it is loudest. The wall will be warm near the nest.

Seal entrances, apply pesticide by drilling, or at nest entrance. Appropriate aerosols are best; dusts are a second choice.

Seal immediately.

Beetle: Japanese Beetle

Beetle: Japanese Beetle

Identification:

Their bodies are about 15 millimeters long and 10 millimeters wide, with iridescent* copper-colored forewings and green thorax and head. The Japanese Beetle can fly, but is considered to be a clumsy flier. Their offspring can often be seen below lawn turf in the larval state.

Behavior:

Emerging in the late spring in the larval stage, these 'grubs' feed on grass and plant roots until they are ready to molt and then re-emerge in mid July as adult beetles. The adults damage plants by cutting through the leaf, consuming only the leaf material between the veins. Japanese beetles feed on a large range of hosts, including leaves of many common crops. They then mate and lay eggs in the same turf they emerged from. The eggs hatch in late summer and feed on grass and plant roots until burrowing down below the freeze line to over winter. The damage these insects cause can often go unnoticed until large sections of grass begin to brown and are severely damaged.

Treatment Options:

While repellents and traps for adults are commonly sold in stores, the most effective way to control Japanese beetles is to treat the turf that they reside in with a strong insecticide. These treatments are generally done during the weeks when grubs are most active and also during mid-summer when adults emerge and mating takes place. Over the counter products can prove effective, but it is usually best to call a professional.

Beetle: Powder Post Beetle

Beetle: Powder Post Beetle

Identification:

The adults are very small, less than 1/4" in size. They are flattened and reddish-brown to black in color. Larvae are white, cream colored, shaped with dark brown heads. However, it is very uncommon to actually see a live beetle. You are much more likely to see the small holes they make in wood. Another indicator is the wood powder that gets expelled from the holes. This is a fine powder and is a clear indicator of an active infestation.

Behavior:

The term "powderpost" comes from the fact that the larvae of these beetles feed on and create tunnels in wood and, given enough time, can reduce it to a mass of fine powder. As adults they bore out through the wood, pushing a fine powdery dust out .The shape of their holes are round ,about 1/32-1/16 pinholes. Because of this behavior, they are considered pests. Powderpost beetles feed on deciduous trees, including certain hardwoods or softwoods depending on the species. These insects can lay dormant for two of more years

Treatment Options:

Surface sprays that contain a borate are usually the best option, in some cases multiple applications need to be made. When applicable, it is also acceptable to remove the infested wood. In extreme cases large scale fumigation can be necessary.

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder Bugs

Identification:

Adult boxelder bugs are flat-backed, elongate, narrow, about 1/2 inch long, 1/3 inch wide and dark brownish-black with three lengthwise red stripes on the area behind the head. The head is black with the "beak" or proboscis reddish-orange and the long, thin, four-segmented antennae are half as long as the body. Wings are thick and leathery at the base and membranous at the tip. There are red veins in the wings and the abdomen is bright red under the wings. The nymphs, or immatures, resemble the adults in shape except they are smaller, more rounded, wingless and bright red. Eggs are dark reddish-brown.

Behavior:

Boxelder bugs often invade buildings, especially during the warm days of autumn, to seek sheltered sites for overwintering. They are attracted to lights and will readily fly in open doors and windows. Indoors, these bugs create a nuisance by their presence, produce a foul odor when crushed, and may stain curtains with fecal matter. Outdoors, they can be found in large numbers on the sides of trees, buildings and other structures. Large populations are often correlated with long, hot, dry summers. During warm winter and spring days, they may become active, moving from their hiding places into living spaces.

Treatment Options:

Boxelder bugs feed and reproduce on the pistillate (female) boxelder trees so it would be helpful to remove all pistillate trees from the area. Eliminate hiding places such as piles of boards, rocks, leaves, grass and other debris close to the house. Rake leaves and grass away from the house, especially on the south and west sides of the structure. Be sure to caulk and close openings where boxelder bugs can enter the house, such as around light fixtures, doors and windows, unscreened vents, holes in walls and foundations, around utility pipes, air conditioners, etc. They are also attracted to lights and can fly in open doors or windows. Screen all windows, doors, crawl spaces, exhaust and roof vents. General pesticide sprays can be very effective eliminating populations.

Cockroach: American Cockroach

Cockroach: American Cockroach

Identification:

American cockroach adults grow to an average length of around 4 centimeters and about 7 millimeters tall. They are reddish brown and have a yellowish margin on the body region behind the head. Young cockroaches resemble adults except that they are wingless.

Behavior:

The insect can travel quickly, often darting out of sight when someone enters a room, and can fit into small cracks and under doors despite its fairly large size. It is considered one of the fastest running insects. American cockroaches generally live in moist areas, but can survive in dry areas if they have access to water. They prefer warm temperatures around 84 °F and do not tolerate cold temperatures. In residential areas, these cockroaches live in basements and sewers, and may move outdoors into yards during warm weather. These cockroaches are common in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches, foundations, and walkways adjacent to buildings. The American cockroach is a scavenger that feeds on decaying organic matter and a variety of other foods. It is particularly fond of fermenting foods. Adults live roughly one year, and females lay egg sacks containing 9-10 eggs each.

Treatment Options:

Eliminating moisture and food sources is always a good choice when dealing with roaches. Baits and chemical sprays are generally needed especially in the case of American roaches that tend to travel between dwellings through the public water and sewage systems. Spraying around drains and pipes entering and leaving the home is recommended.

Cockroach: German Cockroach

Cockroach: German Cockroach

Identification:

While one of the most commons, they are a small species of cockroach, measuring about 1.3 cm to 1.6 cm long but they are known to be larger. It can be tan through brown to almost black, and has two dark parallel streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Even though it has wings, it cannot fly.

Behavior:

They prefer to live in a moist, warm environment, and such as kitchens and bathrooms. These environments supply plenty of food as well as the preferred temperature and humidity. They will feed on starches, sugar, and meat, and they will feed off a wide variety of organic substances, including hair and shed skin cells.

Like other species, the German roach is nocturnal. During the day they hide in dark, warm, moist areas, and come out at night. It is rare for German cockroaches to be seen during daylight hours. When roaches are spotted during the day, it usually means a heavy infestation is present, or the insects are subject to stressful living conditions such as lack of food. Egg capsules contain 30-40 eggs. They fully mature in about 3 months.

The German cockroach secretes a substance with a characteristic odor, when its scared or surprised. Heavy infestations can cause an entire room to take on this oily, unpleasant smell. The roaches also carry disease-producing organisms which can cause gastroenteritis in humans.

Treatment Options:

Traps and baits can be placed in areas the roaches are known to be, for heavy infestations it's usually most effective to have an exterminator set traps and use chemical treatment sprays and aerocides. At the same time, it's important to prevent further re-infestation by improving sanitation. Food should be stored in sealed, airtight containers, and surfaces should be kept clean.

Cockroach: Oriental Cockroach

Cockroach: Oriental Cockroach

Identification:

Oriental cockroach adult males are about 1 in (25 mm) long; females are about 1 1/4 in (32 mm) long. Males' wings cover 75% of abdomen, females' wings are much smaller.Usually shiny black, but varies somewhat, and can go to a dark reddish brown.In spite of common name, probably from north Africa; also known as a "shad roach", "black beetle", or "water bug"; found around the world.

Behavior:

Found outdoors under stones, in leaf litter and other debris; indoors in spaces within walls, crawl spaces, basements, floor drains. This roach may sometimes crawl up along water pipes to the second floor. Oriental cockroaches feed on all kinds of food, especially starchy ones. They also eat organic matter that is in the process of decaying. Females usually deposits her egg capsule within about a day (up to 5) after its formation. It may be dropped onto or glued to a surface that is warm and protected, and near a source of food. She will produce on average about 8 egg capsules (16 eggs each) during her life. Development from egg to adult varies depending on temperature; at room temperature it takes about 20 months. Adults live from about 1 to 6 months. Like other roaches, the Oriental cockroach is a nuisance to humans, and feeds on filth. This species also has a strong odor.Oriental cockroaches survive well outdoors in many areas, even after week of freezing weather. They enter around doors, along pipes and air ducts, through drains and unscreened ventilation openings.

Treatment Options:

Initial pesticide application may include residual baits, insect growth regulators, liquids, aerosols, lacquers and/or microencapsulated pesticides, placed in cracks and crevices but occasionally on surfaces, or in voids. Dusting of voids is sometimes appropriate.

Outdoor barrier treatments with microencapsulated or wettable powders are effective.

Earwigs

Earwigs

Identification:

Earwigs are long, flattened insects and usually range from 13-20 mm in length, they are typically light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their forcep-like pincers on the end of the abdomen. The forceps are unequal in length in the males. Earwig female forceps are straight, where male forceps are strongly curved and larger. They have chewing mouthparts and long, slender antennae. Some are wingless but others have a pair of leathery forewings covering a few segments of the abdomen and the membranous hind wings. Young earwigs (nymphs) are similar in appearance to adults. They are white to olive-green and lack wings.

Behavior:

Earwigs require moist, cool places and are found in damp crawl spaces, flower gardens near the home, in mulches, compost piles, trash, under boards and in wood piles. After entering houses, they feed on sweet, oily or greasy foods or houseplants. They feed on living plants and often become pests in greenhouses and field crops and they are attracted to lights.

Treatment Options:

Earwigs are typically treated with perimeter sprays on both the inside and outside of the infested structure. It is often necessary to spray multiple times throughout the season. Removal of damp leaf piles and items in and around the home that collect moisture can prove effective as well. Checking drains, downspouts and gutters for sings of leaks and clogs can help eliminate excess moisture as well.

Fleas

Fleas

Identification:

Flea adults are small insects (1.5-3.3 mm long), usually dark red or brown colored, and have large hind legs for jumping. Fleas do NOT have wings. The exoskeleton is hardened and covered with hairs and spines that point backward. Adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Eyes are absent or simple, and depend on antennas for sensory to heat, touch and smell. Adults often have thickened combs near the back of the head to help grasp onto the host while feeding.

Behavior:

Fleas are blood sucking insects that like to mostly feed on humans, cats and dogs. Their bites cause a red, itchy rash or bump. Bites frequently occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees. They can be in carpets, on their host animals, and most upholstered furniture and bedding.

Treatment Options:

Fleas can be eliminated by insecticides, or by foggers. All floor areas need to be treated, and any pets must be washed and treated by a veterinarian. Vacuum frequently and throw away all vacuum bags to avoid re-infestation. Wash all fabrics (clothing, towels, bed sheets, blankets etc.) in hot water and make sure your house doesn't have a lot of pet hair lying around. If home treatments do not work, professional extermination may be needed.

Fly: Fruit Fly

Fly: Fruit Fly

Identification:

Small fruit flies are about 1/8 in (3-4 mm) long, including wings. Adult small fruit flies have antenna with a feathery bristle; wings with thickened front margins, intersected in two places. Mature Drosophila melanogaster larvae are about 1/4-3/8 in (7-8 mm) long, eyeless, legless, and tapered from large rounded rear to the pair of dark mouth hooks at the "head" end. Adult Drosophila are dull tan to brownish yellow or brownish black; eyes usually bright red. Larvae are nearly white, except mouth hooks which are black, and the tips of the abdominal breathing pores which are yellowish.

Behavior:

Small fruit flies develop on fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, grapes, peaches, pineapples, and tomatoes. Females lay eggs near the surface of fermenting fruits and vegetables or in poorly sealed jars of these foods. Eggs take about 30 hours to hatch. Larvae develop in brine or vinegar of fermenting material. They feed near the surface, mostly on the yeast, for 5-6 days. They go to drier places to pupate. Newly emerged adults mate in about 2 days. The life cycle may be completed within 8-10 days at 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). Small fruit flies are nuisance pests which also transmit disease. Small fruit flies are small enough to go through ordinary screens.

Treatment Options:

Sanitation!

Eliminate the larval food supply! If adult flies are present, this usually means that larvae are developing nearby.

Reducing the size of screen mesh can help if flies are coming in from outdoors.

Baited jar traps and light traps, and use of appropriately labeled aerosol, may be useful, but is of only temporary benefit if proper sanitation is not achieved.

Use only a pesticide registered for fruit flies.

Fly: House Fly

House Fly

Identification:

House fly adult is about 1/8-1/4 in (4-7.5 mm) long, female larger than male. Mature larva is about 1/4-3/8 in (7-10mm).Adult face has 2 velvety strips, silver above and gold below; thorax has 4 narrow stripes; no pale spot behind head or rear tip of thorax; sides of abdomen usually pale; sponging mouth parts. Larva is eyeless, legless, tapered from rear to head, which is a pair of dark hooks. Adult is dull gray. Larva is cream colored and greasy looking.

Behavior:

Females lay eggs on almost any warm, moist material with adequate food supply for egg-laying and larval development. Most house flies stay within 1-2 miles of their larval habitat if food is available, though some have migrated up to 20 miles. During the day, they rest less than 5 ft. from the ground; at night, mainly above 5 ft., but near their food sources. House flies are general feeders on liquids; attracted to many substances, from excrement to human foods. House flies can liquefy solid foods by regurgitation. Adult female lays oval, white eggs singly in clusters of 20-50, laying 350-900 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs hatch in 8-20 hours. Larvae go through 3 instars in 3-7 days at 70-90 degrees F. Full grown larvae go to a cool, dry place to pupate, traveling up to 150 feet in 3-4 days. Pupa goes from yellowish to black during a period of a few days to a month, depending on temperature and humidity. After emerging, the body hardens and the wings dry within about an hour. Development from egg to adult can be as few as 6 days, with 10-12 generations per summer. Adults live 15-25 days. House flies excrete and regurgitate whenever stopping to rest. They have many hairs and bristles, as well as sticky pads at the base of the leg claws. Therefore, they tend to transmit disease organisms, especially those associated with filth.

Treatment Options:

Inspect to determine species and location of breeding and larval development activities. This is best done at night.

Remove larval development sites by emptying, cleaning, drying garbage containers.

Secure screens, seal holes, install various types of traps.

Use pesticides registered and labeled for house flies

Hornets: Bald-faced Hornets

Hornets: Bald-faced Hornets

Identification:

Bald-faced Hornets are common tree-nesting wasps. They grow to 3/4 inch long and are easy to recognize because of their color pattern. The head, thorax, abdomen, and antennae are black and white. Wings are smoky.

Bald-faced Hornet nests are usually found in meadows, forest edges, gardens, and parks, but will occasionally be found in eves and shrubbery around homes.

Behavior:

They are best known for their large football-shaped paper nest, which they build in the spring for raising their young. These nests can sometimes reach 3 feet tall. Nests are made by chewing up strips of wood and mixing it with sticky saliva. One nest may hold up to 700 hornets. Adult Bald-faced Hornets eat flower nectar, fruit juice, sap, and insects. A nest is started by one female, which will become its queen. In the spring, she begins the nest by making a few cells (little round rooms) out of paper in a tree or shrub, anywhere from 2 to 40 feet from the ground. She then lays an egg in each cell. When young wasp larvae hatch, the queen feeds them. Larva are fed chewed up insects. They soon emerge as adult female workers. Throughout the summer, the nest gets bigger, until it's about the size of a basketball.

Millipedes

Millipedes

Identification:

You can usually identify millipedes by their body. They are oval shaped and they are about 1-1 1/2 inches long. Every millipede has two pairs of legs attached to each body segment. Most millipedes are brown or black, but some species are orange or red. Millipedes are found outdoors in places where there is moisture and decaying matter, such as under trash, grass clippings, mulch, rotting firewood, leaf litter, etc. They often infest homes with moisture problems on the lower levels.

Behavior:

The millipedes' diet usually is damp and decaying wood and plant materials. They often feed on decaying organic matter. They invade the house during extremely wet seasons or in a drought. Millipedes usually die within a few days in entering a place unless there is moisture and a food supply. Millipedes are very active at night. In some extreme cases millipede populations can be in the thousands.

Treatment Options:

The first step to treating a millipede infestation is to remove any outdoor things that might be harboring millipedes such as: wood debris, rocks, grass clippings, and leaf litter. Also any firewood should be stored off the ground so that way millipedes don't get into them. Flower beds should not be over mulched so millipedes do not infest them. When using a pesticide, spray along cracks and crevices and also baseboards. In some extreme cases millipede populations can number in the thousands, and frequent monthly sprays are required to get relief.

Moles and Voles

Moles and Voles

Identification:

Both species are rarely seen, but their presence is often made known by the tunnels that are dug in lawn turf. They produce two types of tunnels. The first one is just below the surface a serve as feeding tunnels, they appear as raised ridges going across your yard. The second type of runway runs deeper and enables the moles to unite the feeding tunnels in a network. Moles push the excess dirt from the deep tunnels that homeowners find on their lawns, piled up in mounds that resemble little volcanoes. These mounds show that your problem is not voles, but moles. Voles leave no mounds at all behind.

Behavior:

Moles have large claws for digging tunnels. Moles eat grubs and bugs. They can dig up your yard, but they don't eat your plants or bulbs. If you have moles, you'll see your yard dug up in paths and mounds of dirt. Voles eat plants and bulbs. They also dig tunnels but you'll likely only see the holes where they enter their tunnels. You may also notice that some of your bulbs or plants have been eaten and that there is a tunnel from under the plant from which they came. Voles can do some serious damage to a flower, bulb, or vegetable garden.

Treatment Options:

In the case of moles, eliminating the food source, (grubs) usually proves effective. However, poisons can be used and are generally effective against both moles and voles. Some repellents are useful, however they often do not provide long term results.

Mouse: Common Mouse

Common mouse

Identification:

The adult house mouse is small and slender and about 1-2 inches long, excluding its tail. The house mouse has large ears, pointed nose and small eyes. The tail is as long as the head and body combined. The fur color varies, but it is usually a light gray or brown, but could be darker shades. It has an overall coloration. They leave behind droppings that are 1/8-1/4 inch long.

Behavior:

If there are good living conditions (food, water, and shelter), they can multiply rapidly. They sexually mature in two months, producing about 8 litters in a one year life time. Each litter has 4-7 offspring.

They survive well on weeds, seeds, or insects, but when their food supply is shorter because of the winter they move inside to build a nest closer to a food supply. They make their nest from soft material like paper, insulation, or furniture stuffing. Their nests are found in walls, ceiling voids, storage boxes, drawers, under major appliances, or within the upholstery of furniture. Outside the nests are found in debris or in ground burrows. Most mice can enter a dwelling through anything larger than a dime sized hole.

Mice have two main meal times, just before dawn and at dusk, they simply "snack" at other times at intervals or every 1-2 hours. They can eat 10 to 15% of their body weight every day. Mice also get much of their water from food products and are active mostly at night, but they can be seen occasionally during daylight hours.

Treatment Options:

Exclusion is the primary means of control. Steel wool can be useful to this end, as well as caulk and foam insulation. However, once inside a structure the primary means of control is either traps or poisons. Most traps kill on contact, however there are live repeater traps available. If a trap is put down and remains untouched after 48 hours, the mouse has moved on, and you should move the trap.

Odorous House ants

ants, odorous house ants, pest control

Identification:

This species is very small and when crushed it is know to produce an odor that is often described as rotten coconut.

1/16-1/8" long. Brown to Black color, occasionally lighter

Behavior:

Colonies are often quite large from a few hundred to 100,000 members! Colonies are often inter connected throughout large areas, entire neighborhoods and even college campuses have been studied and found to have interlinked colonies. Each colony typically produces up to 5 generations per season.They like moisture and in homes are often found in wall voids, or near hot water pipes and heaters.

Treatment Options:

Treatment typically involves several months and a combination of baits and sprays. 

Silverfish

Silverfish

Identification:

The silverfish is usually about 1/2 inch long, with a silver surface. Their bodies are long, slender, and flattened. They can be found almost anywhere, but they prefer damp, moderate temperature places such as basements, laundry rooms, and under sinks.

Behavior:

Silverfish like a dark, moist environment and they require a large supply of starchy foods or molds. Silverfish are nuisance pests because they feed on wallpaper, textiles, books, and papers. Silverfish also feed on mold or fungi that can grow on various surfaces. They are fast moving and can travel throughout buildings because of their many legs. Silverfish can lay eggs at anytime during the year, it takes the eggs 19-43 days to hatch. They can be a problem year round and silverfish are very active at night.

Treatment Options:

To remove silverfish, make sure that any pipes or plumbing are not leaking because eliminating any moisture will help removing silverfish. Use a dehumidifier and/or an air conditioner to eliminate any moisture in the air. Also it helps to vacuum cracks and crevices with a narrow vacuum to remove silverfishes in small areas. Store any food in tight containers so that way silverfishes cannot contaminate anything. Pesticide sprays can be a useful tool as well, spraying cracks and crevices as well as baseboard areas.

Skunks

Identification:

Skunks are typically black with white markings on their backs and tails. The white markings are often in the shape of stripes, however it is not uncommon to see a skunk with blotches or large spots in eastern PA. The other obvious identifier would be the extremely pungent odor that skunks release when frightened or defending themselves.Skunk populations can range from 2-50 individuals in a square mile. They mate in February through late March, females can give birth in early May and litters can range from 4-6 young.

Skunks feed on a variety of insects, and will make small cone shaped holes in turf grass seeking out a meal.

Behavior:

Skunks are nocturnal. If you should ever see a skunk walking in broad daylight, exercise extreme caution, the animal may be injured or sick.  Skunks are known to carry rabies, they often contract the disease defending themselves against other animals. If you should see a skunk engaging in daytime activity or acting erratically, call a professional immediately and DO NOT engage. Skunks are not an aggressive animal, however they will not hesitate to defend themselves, generally by spraying. 

In urban areas they will often feed on grubs in yards and flower beds, and will sometimes scavenge when provided the opportunity. They will burrow  under decks and sheds, and even under raised homes. 

Treatment Options:

While there are a variety of repellents on the market, the most effective way of dealing with a skunk is by removing the animal. 

Spider: Black Widow Spider

Spider: Black Widow Spider

Identification:

Black widow spider adult female is about 1/2 in (12-13 mm) long, including the abdomen which is 1/4-3/8 in (7.2-9.6 mm) in diameter; length including legs is 1 1/2 to 1 3/8 in (38-43 mm); male is half that size.The abdomen is almost spherical. The common name comes from the belief that the female eats the male after mating, which rarely happens in nature.Females are usually black, sometimes brownish, with 2 reddish triangular markings on her underside that are often joined so they look like an hourglass shape, but are sometimes only a single triangular mark. There are usually red markings above the spinnerets. Males usually have a color pattern on upper surface, a row of red spots with white lines or bars going out to the sides. Eyes: 8, with 2 side pairs almost touching. Last tarsal segment of 4th pair of legs has toothed bristles; claws on all lower leg segments. Young spiders are orange and white, becoming more and more black with age, with markings like males on upper side; also 1 or 2 reddish markings on underneath side.

Behavior:

Black widow spiders live in protected places such as woodpiles, under stones and decks, in hollow trees or stumps, rodent burrows, or even in low branches; dry places in barns, sheds, meter boxes, barrels. Black widow spiders hang upside down from irregular webs one foot in diameter. The female avoids light and tends to seek prey at night. Most black widow spiders overwinter as immatures, becoming adults in spring, dying in late July. In some species females may live for 2 or more years after maturity; and some males up to about 6 months. Female is not aggressive except after egg laying and when guarding her eggs.

Treatment Options:

Clean! Keep outside areas free from debris and trim vegetation.

Vacuum inside and outside to remove webs, egg sacs, and spiders. Immediately seal and dispose of vacuum bag. Adults usually escape a broom, unless a contact pesticide is used first.

Chemical control includes registered dusts, wettable powders, microencapsulated or lacquer pesticides..

Perimeter treatments are useful. Since spiders reuse their silk, light dusting of webs with non-repellent dust can be effective.

Repeating applications in 30 days kills remaining spiderlings from un-removed egg sacs.

Stink Bugs (Pentatomoidea)

Stink Bugs

Identification:

The adults are approximately 5/8 inch long and the underside is white or pale tan, sometimes with gray or black markings. The legs are brown with faint white banding. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs. Stink bugs can fly.

Behavior:

An agricultural pest, stink bugs can cause widespread damage to fruit and vegetable crops. The stink bug survives the winter as an adult by entering houses and structures when fall evenings start to turn cold. Adults can live for several years and look for buildings to overwinter in that shield them from the elements. They will work their way under siding, around window and door frames, under roof shingles and into any crawl space or attic vent which has openings big enough to fit through. Once inside the house they will go into a state of hibernation where they wait for winter to pass, but often the warmth inside the house causes them to become active, especially in winter months, and they will fly clumsily around light fixtures.

The stinkbug's ability to emit a vile odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten. However, simply jostling the bug, cornering it, scaring or injuring it, or attempting to remove it from one's house can "set it off". Squashing it is a surefire way of expelling its noxious odor.

Treatment Options:

Stink bugs are a very difficult to control insect. As of present, there are no known means of elimination. However, timely pesticide sprays can greatly reduce populations, and provide much needed relief against these insects.

Termites: Subterranean Termites

Termites: Subterranean Termites

Identification:

Termites are often never seen, and identification typically comes from the damage they create, or the small mud tubes through which they travel which are often present in along basement joists and floor boards. These small tubes or tunnels are usually 1/8 inch in diameter and are literally made up of soil particles. Termite bodies are long and cylindrical not segmented like ant bodies are. Termite swarmers often emerge in the spring of the year literally swarming out of the ground or other infested areas. These swarmers can number in the thousands and are identified by their black bodies and two sets of wings that are equal in length. Since termites can cause large amounts of damage if you ever suspect termites, it is best to call a professional for proper identification.

Behavior:

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies and feed on buried wood. When the initial wood supply is depleted the colony may be extended through "shelter tubes" to above ground wood. Shelter tubes are made from soil particles and thus are the color and texture of the local soil. The tubes are built on foundation walls, posts, pilings, in other words anything that spans between soil and wood. Termite colonies are active year round, and mating typically occurs after the spring thaw which is when swarming can occur. Subterranean termites are extremely sensitive to light and require constant contact with soil to help them meet their moisture needs. Infestation typically occurs in homes that either a) have a lot of wood in or near the home that is in contact with the soil, or b) is near a water source or has moisture problems related to poor drainage.

Termites actually feed on the cellulous that is in wood, and other products. Unfortunately this includes paper (found on all drywall) and many insulating products such as spray foam. These potential food sources are often more viable and easier to access and digest than actual wood causing infestations to grow quickly.

Treatment Options:

Due to the complex nature of termites and the extreme level of damage that they can cause it is never a good idea to attempt to treat termites yourself. There are two basic treatment strategies for subterranean termites commonly in practice.

1) soil treatments: these treatments are based on the principal that termites need contact with the soil, and thus the soil around the perimeter of the home is treated with a chemical agent creating a barrier between your home and the soil around it. While this treatment is generally effective, it is difficult to prevent breaks in the 'barrier' by natural obstructions. This method is also problematic in soil with high moisture content and for homes with wells, or that are near bodies of water

2) baiting systems: these systems are based on the principal that termite colonies are always foraging for new food sources. The baits are placed strategically around the infested structure and are monitored for future activity. Once the baits are found and fed upon by the colony, the baits are then loaded with poisons that will kill the termites, but do so slowly enough where the entire colony is often destroyed before they recognize the baits as a threat. These systems are the most commonly used treatment methods due to their cost effectiveness, safety, and general effectiveness. As is the case with liquid soil treatments, the baits have limitations, and are not particularly effective in extremely moist soil.

There are other additional treatment options on a more limited basis that incorporate the use of liquid sprays and foams, but these methods are limited and not very effective when not being used in conjunction with one of the two methods mentioned above. In all cases it is always the best policy to call an experienced professional to inspect your home and review your treatment options. Only and experienced professional will have the expertise necessary to properly diagnose and treat a home or structure infested by termites.

Wasp: Cicada Killer

Wasp: Cicada Killer

Identification:

Adult eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5.0 centimeters (0.6 to 2.0 in) long, robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration may superficially resemble that of yellowjackets or hornets. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance. European hornets (Vespa crabro) are often mistaken for Eastern cicada killers.

Behavior:

Cicada killer wasps are large, solitary wasps. Often simply referred to as "the cicada killer". However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the eastern cicada killer. This species occurs in the eastern and Midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them. Solitary wasps (such as the eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates.

Adults emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July and continuing throughout the summer months. They are present in a given area for 60 to 75 days, until mid-September. The large females are commonly seen in mid-to-late summer skimming around lawns seeking good sites to dig burrows and searching shrubs and trees for cicadas.

The males are more often seen in groups, vigorously challenging one another for position on the breeding aggregation from which they emerged, and generally pursuing anything that moves or flies within proximity. It is not unusual to see two or three male wasps locked together in midair combat, the aggregate adopting an erratic and uncontrolled flight path until one of the wasps breaks away. The male wasp's aggressive behavior is extremely similar to that of another robust insect of the area, the male carpenter bee. In both cases, while the males' vigorous territorial defense can be extremely frightening and intimidating to human passersby, the males pose no danger whatsoever. They will only grapple with other insects, and cannot sting.

This ground-burrowing wasp may be found in well-drained, sandy soils to loose clay in bare or grass-covered banks, berms and hills as well as next to raised sidewalks, driveways and patio slabs. Females may share a burrow, digging their own nest cells off the main tunnel. Cicada killers may nest in planters, window boxes, flower beds or under shrubs, ground cover, etc. Nests often are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse.

Wasp: Paper Wasp

Wasp: Paper Wasp

Identification:

Paper wasp adults are about 5/8 to 3/4 in (16-20 mm) long.Paper wasps have long legs and are brownish with yellow markings; some species with reddish markings.

Behavior:

Paper wasps make paper-like nests with an umbrella-like shape. There is a single layer of comb with cells that open downward, hanging down by a single, narrow strand. There is no outer "envelope". The cells remain open. The thin strand may help keep ants and other intruders out. Nests are smaller than 6 by 8 inches, with about 150-250 cells.A paper wasp queen that has overwintered begins to build a nest in the spring. This primary queen nest-builder may be joined by other, secondary, queens in building and maintaining the nest. The secondary queens then will not lay eggs. However, if the dominant queen dies, one of these secondary queens may take over the egg laying, so that the nest can survive. A single egg is laid in each open cell and the larvae are fed protein from insects. Later the cells are capped when the larvae are ready to pupate. Paper wasps are beneficial insects. They feed on many insect pests. However, they can and do sting when disturbed, which can be a problem if a nest is touched by someone doing pruning or fruit picking, or if there is a lot of human activity near a nest. Nests are hung from almost any protected structure-twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, porch ceilings, window and door frames, soffits and eaves, rafters, deck floor joists, railings.

Treatment Options:

Be careful when pruning shrubs and picking fruit. Check for paper wasp nests.Adult paper wasps are quick to rebuild after the nest is disturbed, so it is important to kill the adults if control is desired.Use an appropriate pesticide early in the morning or at night when most of the wasps will be in the nest. Afterwards, remove the nest.

Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket

Identification:

Yellowjacket adult workers are 3/8-5/8 in (10-16 mm) long, depending on species; queens are 25% longer. Wings are folded lengthwise when the yellowjacket is at rest .Abdomen usually has yellow and black bands, but some species are white and black, and two northern species have red markings.

Behavior:

The nest is a paper-carton nest which eventually has 30-55 compartments surrounded by a paper "envelope". It is made of chewed cellulose by a queen who has overwintered and is ready to lay her eggs, one in each compartment. Eventually there will be a number of paper-like combs attached one below the other, and covered with many layers of "paper". Depending on the species, nests may be built on the ground, or in shrubs, trees, or buildings, such as houses, garages, and sheds. They may sting when the nest entrance is approached, and can be aggressive, stinging several times.

Treatment Options:

While it is light outside, locate the place where yellowjackets enter the nest.

Control procedures should take place at night, while they are in the nest.

Ground nests may be dusted with a pesticide.

Nests built in wall voids may be treated by dusting the void through the entrance hole, or by using an aerosol and closing the hole.

An aerosol may be used to treat aerial nests.