The Argentine ant is a tiny dark ant measuring about 3mm long. These ants are well adapted to urbanized areas of the United States with mild climates and well-watered gardens. Argentine ants are a common household pest, entering homes in search of food or water. They live in the ground, in cracks in concrete walls, in spaces between boards and timbers and even in items found in homes. Argentine ants live in super colonies with literally millions of worker ants and thousands of queens. They can be detrimental to gardens and crops and can kill beneficial insects near your home.
Carpenter ants are large and can measure up to 1 inch long. They are indigenous to many parts of the world and prefer making their nests in dead, damp wood. Carpenter ants can also be found in trees, hollowing out a section for their nest. The black carpenter ant can invade homes by cutting galleries into the wood grain, providing passageways to the nest. Inside nests are often found in wood dampened by water leaks, such as around sinks, bathtubs, poorly sealed windows and door frames, roof leaks and poorly flashed chimneys. Carpenter ants can cause structural home damage and the entire colony needs to be removed before replacing any rotten wood.
Fire ants are a type of stinging ants, with over 280 different species worldwide. Their size varies from 2mm to 6mm and they can be distinguished from other ants due to their copper brown head and body with a darker abdomen. Fire ants place their nests in soil near moist areas or under objects such as timber, logs, rocks, pavers or bricks. In open spaces, such as fields or parks, you can find dome-shaped mounds which can reach heights of 40 cm tall. Fire ants feed mostly on young plans, seeds and sometimes crickets. As a stinging ant, the venom of a fire ant can cause serious pain and will swell into a bump which will often form into a white pustule. Stings can become infected and medical attention may been needed.
Odorous ants are tiny, dark ants that grow to about 3mm in length. They get their name from the coconut odor that is produced when their bodies are crushed. These ants do not bite or sting, however they are often found looking for food in long trails over household surfaces. They forage both day and night and are attracted to sweet foods. The nest of an odorous ant are usually shallow and can be found just underneath a soil surface. The odorous ant normally nests in places such as mulch, soil, debris, logs, stumps, under stones as well as under plastic outdoor tarps. Indoors their nests are normally found in wall voids, behind paneling, under carpets or around pipes.
Pavement ants are dark brown and about 1/8 of an inch long. They normally make their homes in pavements, under stones, at the end of concrete slabs and in crevices of houses in woodwork and masonry. They will eat almost anything including insects, meats, breads, sweats and milk products. Pavement ants can easily contaminate foods and should be avoided.
Pharaoh ants are very small, about 2mm, and are yellow or light brown in color. These ants are almost transparent and can become a serious indoor nuisance because they can invade all types of food, including packaged baked goods, jellies, peanut better, juices and even soft drinks. They can even gnaw holes in silk, rayon and rubber goods. Pharaoh ants do not build mounds or carve out galleries in wood, instead they nest in any dark void in a structure. They can be found in wall voids, cabinet voids, behind appliances, baseboards and insulation. Outside these ants can be found in flower pots and debris of rain gutters. Pharaoh ants have become a serious problem in grocery store, food establishments, apartment homes and even hospitals.
Thief ants are small, pale yellow to dark brown ants growing to about 1/16 of an inch in length. They are often confused with pharaoh ants because of their size and color, but these ants will commonly nest near or even with nests of other species of ants so they can steal both food and immature brood ants. Outside, these ants will be found in pots, boards, bricks, stones, wood or in tree cavities. Inside, their nests can be found in small cracks and crevices in woodwork and masonry. Thief ants enter homes to look for food. Once the food source is found these ants will establish trails to the resource. They prefer high-protein food and also feed on sweets, breads, oils, nuts and dairy products. Due to the small size of the thief ant, they can easily enter and contaminate packaged foods.
Subterranean termites live in colonies that can contain up to 2 million members. They can be found underground or in moist, secluded areas above ground. Subterranean termites build distinctive mud tubes to gain access to their food sources and protect them from open air. Most subterranean termites are cream-colored and range from 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch long. They are one of the most destructive insects in the United States due to the damage caused by their attack of wooden elements in homes and businesses.
Drywood termites live and feed in dry wood that is normally above ground level. Unlike subterranean termites they do not require any contact with soil in order to live. They build their colonies in structural wood, fence and utilities posts, furniture, molding, door and window frames and so forth. Drywood termites can best be identified by the presence of fecal pellets which have a distinct ridged shape and are about the size of table salt.
Fleas are external parasites who feed off the blood of their hosts. They are normally dark colored and range from 1mm to 3mm long. Fleas attack warm-blooded animals including cats, dogs, humans, chickens, mice, etc. Flea bites result in the formation of a slightly-raised swollen spot with a single puncture point at the center. They often appear in clusters and can remain itchy for up to several weeks. Fleas are not only a nuisance; they can cause allergic reactions in some of their hosts.
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They range in color from white to light tan to brown or orange. Bed bugs hid in small crevices and can be found in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes and other objects that are moved between homes. Used furniture is at greatest risk of harboring bed bugs and their eggs. The bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by other blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes or fleas, however bed bugs usually attack at night.
Crickets are nocturnal insects with flattened bodies and long antennae. There are approximately 900 species of crickets throughout the world and they are often confused with grasshoppers because of their similar body structure and jumping hind legs. Crickets feed on organic materials as well as decaying plants, fungi and some seeding plants. They have been known to bite humans but are more of an annoyance due to their fairly loud chirp.
Mosquitoes are found all over the world and have adapted to climates from the arctic to the equator. Worldwide, mosquito-borne diseases kill more people than any other single factor. They can be carriers of numerous diseases including encephalitis. They also can transmit heart worms to cats and dogs. Mosquitoes feed on flower nectar, juices and decaying matter. However, they do not feed on blood as many people believe. Female mosquitoes use blood from their hosts for the development of her eggs.
Ticks are blood-feeding parasites that will attach to a host by inserting their feeding tubes into the skin. They are often found in tall grass and shrubs. Ticks can only attack through physical contact with their hosts. They cannot jump or fly. They are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they can go unnoticed for a considerable amount of time during a feeding. Ticks can spread Lyme disease as well as many other common illnesses.
Bees range in size from 2mm to 4cm long and can be a variety of colors such as black, grey, yellow, red, metallic green or blue. They feed on nectar and pollen and are the most important pollinating insects in the world and are vitally important for plants, flowers and fruit. Most bees will not attack if they are left alone, however if provoked, a bee will sting in defense of itself or its nest. Thousands of people are stung each year and as many as 50 people in the United States die each year as a result of allergic reactions.
Lice are parasites that can be found on people’s heads and bodies. There are three different types of lice that live on humans, depending on where they are found. Lice infestations are spread by person-to-person contact and can only move by crawling. Body louse (lice found on the main trunk of the body) is the only known lice to spread disease. Dogs and cats cannot transmit human lice.
The American cockroach is the largest species of cockroach as is prevalent in the southern parts of the United States. They are also known as Palmetto Bugs or Waterbugs. The American coackroach can grow to 4cm long and are reddish brown in color. In residential areas, American cockroaches live in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of homes and walkways to buildings. They are scavengers that feed on decaying organic materials and are particularly fond of fermenting foods.
Brown Banded Cockroach
Brown banded cockroaches are about 5/8 of an inch long and have wings. They prefer warm, elevated areas and live throughout buildings in ceilings, closets, furniture and electrical appliances. They feed on starchy materials and can even eat non-food materials such as nylon stockings. Brown banded cockroaches are active at night and will jump rapidly when disturbed. They tend to avoid sunlight and can normally only be found by inspecting the area with a flashlight after dark.
The German cockroach is one of the most common household cockroaches in the world. They are very small, measuring about 1cm long. Due to their size they can easily hide and fit into very small cracks and crevices to find food. German cockroaches can range in color from light brown to almost black and although they have wings, they cannot fly. They are commonly found in restaurants, hotels and nursing homes.
The Oriental cockroach is dark reddish brown in color and averages about 1 inch long. They live in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches and walkways. They feed on a wide variety of plant and animal materials. One distinguishing factor of the Oriental cockroach is that is cannot climb up smooth surfaces. They can however fly. They prefer cool temperatures, but breed well in unventilated spaces where humidity is high.
Smokey-brown cockroaches are dark brown and can grow to over and inch long. They are found outside in wooded areas that provide shade and moisture. They can also be found in tree holes, mulch, stacks of firewood and trash piles. Inside, they are commonly found in attics or near fireplaces and can be attracted by a leaky roof. Due to their need for high humidity, they are mostly found in the southern areas of the United States.
Spiders play a beneficial role in keeping insect populations in check, however many people have a phobia of spiders and want to prevent them from entering the home. Most spiders are harmless to humans, only two groups – recluse spiders and widow spiders – are considered poisonous. Those that are extremely allergic to spider venom though can react severely to any spider bite.