Ants invade homes, usually in search of food and water. These close relatives of bees and wasps are social insects that divide duties among different types of adults. Queens lay the colony’s eggs and sometimes participate in feeding and grooming larvae. Most of the colony is comprised of sterile female workers that gather food, build tunnels, and defend the colony. The odorous house ant, imported fire ant, and black carpenter ant are among North America’s almost 1,000 species of ants
Bedbugs invade even the cleanest homes, hitching a ride on luggage, clothing, bedding, or furniture. These pesky parasites then spread throughout your home when you move bug-infested furniture or clothing, or as your pets wander.
Cockroaches are some of the world’s oldest insects, and their success relates to their ability to adapt to changing environments. Because they are scavengers, these insects eat whatever is available, although they prefer starch, grease, sweets, meats, and meat byproducts. They will even live on decaying organic matter, book bindings, and glue!
The nighttime chirping sounds of crickets herald spring and summer in many areas of the United States. What you don’t necessarily hear is the chomping of these insects on plants, paper products, and fabrics such as linen, silk, wool, and cotton.
Earwigs are one of the least attractive insects that live around, and sometimes inside, homes. The most common species is about 3/4 inch long, appears reddish-brown in color, and has prominent pincers, called cerci, which protrude from the abdomen. They also have long antennae on their head. The cerci are used for defense, to capture prey, and as sensory organs to identify what is going on in their environment. Male earwigs have curved cerci, while the pincers on female earwigs are straight.
Fleas are wingless insects with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking the blood of their hosts. Why should I worry about fleas? Many dogs and cats are allergic to their saliva, and a single flea bite can cause severe itching or even hives. Fleas also carry the Diplylidium caninum tapeworm and other diseases, including the plague virus.
The merciless mosquito thrives in warm, humid conditions and lives and breeds in standing water. Any pool of water that has been stagnant for three days is a prime habitat for this dangerous parasite. Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at one time, and their offspring usually stay within 300 feet of where they hatched. This means that most mosquitoes you see in your yard were actually born in your neighborhood!
Ticks generally drop off your pet when they’re full of blood, but it can take several days for this to happen. During this time, they can transmit several diseases to pets (and their humans!), including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis.
The wasp measures up to an inch long, and depending on the species, is reddish-brown to dark brown in color. Some species have yellow markings on the head. They possess a narrow waist between the thorax and abdomen, and their dark wings fold along the body at rest.