This is our most common ant, the little blackish species that invades our homes and yards in search of food and water. Abundant in urban areas, it develops to prodigious numbers and single colonies may harbor thousands of workers. It often becomes particularly noxious at the onset of cool weather in the fall, when colonies converge and move to sheltered, warmer quarters under homes, and foraging columns begin to seek food indoors.
The species is one of the most persistent and troublesome of all our house-infesting ants. Argentine Ant workers seek out and feed on almost every type of food, although they are especially fond of sweets. Making themselves almost objectionable, the ants invade the house through minute crevices and cracks--filling along baseboards, across sinks, and over walls and tables in endless trails.
How to Control Argentine Ants: Remove food that is favored by ants. Trim trees to discourage the entrance to your roof or window areas. Reducing moisture sources helps--so does the application of pesticides such as baits, sprays, fumigants and contact insecticides.
Earwigs are active at night and hide during the day in cracks and crevices. They are mainly scavengers, but occasionally feed on plants. Some species have repugnatory glands from which they can squirt a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid.
If you have Earwigs near or in your home, they are most likely European Earwigs. This cosmopolitan insect is believed to have been first observed in the U.S. in 1907 in Seattle, Washington. It is now found throughout much of the U.S. and in parts of Canada.
This insect avails itself to any moist, dark crevice such as those found in heaps of manure, under boards and in similar locations. The adults can even float in water for as long as 24 hours, and then resume immediate activities upon reaching a dry surface.
If disturbed, these insects have a foul odor. The only favorable thing one can say about them is that they attack and devour other insect pests.
How to Control Earwigs: Through a variety of insecticides are labeled for control of earwigs, the first step in control is to remove unessential plant debris, mulch and boards from around your home. Poorly placed rain downspouts and broken irrigation systems contribute to moist areas which are attractive to nesting female earwigs. Non-chemical methods include improving sanitation, fixing plumbing leaks, removing harborage and clutter, and sealing areas where earwigs enter structures.
This insect’s chief fame is attributed to their ability to transmit disease. The body of the flea is well adapted to its parasitic lifestyle. Dark-colored adults are flattened from side to side with many bristles that point backwards, facilitating forward movement through fur, hair or feathers. Fleas are wingless creatures, with strongly developed legs, and hind legs that are especially adapted for jumping. They have sucking mouth parts designed to feed on the blood of mammals and birds.
The most serious human disease transmitted by biting fleas is bubonic plague or the "Black Death" of the Middle Ages. Even though we are not at serious risk of this disease, fleas are common sources of skin lesions in humans. Some individuals become accustomed to fleas and are not disturbed by them. Others are extremely irritated by the presence of fleas, let alone their painful bites. The bite of a flea varies with the species and the person bitten.
The cat, dog and human flea are the intermediate host of dog tapeworm, a common problem in cats and dogs. There have even been reports that 24 percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats are infected with tapeworm. And according to experts, the incidence of dog tapeworm infestations in children may be more frequent than suspected.
Controlling Fleas: First of all, keep your home or facility as sanitary as possible. Another facet of flea control includes screening of foundation vents to keep pests, rats, opossum, squirrels and other flea hosts out from under the house or facility. Many times when dogs and other pets are allowed to seek shade under the house on a hot summer day, this can lead to a rapid buildup of a heavy concentration of fleas. Be sure to wash pets' bedding and vacuum pet resting and sleeping areas. The most important part of controlling fleas is the safe application of EPA-registered pesticide for fleas.
Although the housefly is one of the most familiar of all insects, the individual who can separate it from other flies is rare. The housefly is 1/6 to 1/4 inch in length, with the female usually larger than the male. The sexes can be readily separated by noting the space between their eyes, which in females is almost twice as broad as in males.
Fermenting, fresh horse manure is a favorite breeding place of the the housefly. This manure must be less than one-day old to be attractive to the egg-laying adult. Other breeding grounds are human excreta, cow manure, fermenting vegetable refuse and kitchen garbage. Flies will even breed in incinerated garbage if it is fresh and wet.
Although the housefly is an unbearable nuisance, they are also a carrier of disease organisms such as typhoid fever, cholera, summer diarrhea, dysentery, tuberculosis an anthrax. The housefly feeds on fecal material, vomit and sputum, after which it might alight on food. Its body is covered by fine hairs and bristles which pick up dirt particles. And whenever the housefly comes to rest, it excretes and regurgitates.
How to Control Houseflies: The first step is controlling the number of flies around the structure. The second step is chemical control. Also, properly fitting and maintaining of doors and keeping windows closed or screened during warm months is an important step to reducing the number of flies in and around your home.
As a rule, bees and wasps are beneficial insects unmindful of the activities of man, as long as man makes it a point to disregard them. At times, the nests of these insects may be built in close proximity to our homes, or even inside our homes, as to make the area too confining for both insect and man.
Wasps, because of their scavenging behavior, are more of a nuisance to man than bees are. They annoy us at barbecues, competing with us for our steaks, hot dogs, and soft drinks.
Wasps can be distinguished from bees as follows: Bees appear to have hairy bodies, and wasps appear to have smooth bodies. Wasps feed primarily on protein such as spiders and insects; bees feed on and give their young pollen, nectar, and in some cases, honey.
Wasps often live in colonies which number thousands of individuals. These insects would not anger or threaten us except that they have adapted themselves to living very closely with us. They take advantage of us by sometimes nesting in the wall voids and attics of our homes where they can go unnoticed all season. In the fall, when food is scarce, they often find their way inside the home.
Controlling Wasps: If the nest can be found, it should be treated by a pest control operator and then removed in a few days.
Cockroaches are much maligned insects. They're a pesky insect that has over 50 species in America alone. The few "bad" cockroaches are common household pests found in warmer climates.
Cockroaches are found most commonly in restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and where food is prepared or stored. During the summer months, alley ways and yards may be badly infested. They're mostly active at night and during the day they hide in dark crevices--in or behind kitchen cabinets, drawers, stoves, and refrigerators. The female lays her eggs in a hard dark brown purse-shaped capsule, which she may carry about for several days, protruding from the end of the abdomen. The capsule is eventually dropped, and later the young cockroaches hatch and scatter. Both young and adults are generally feeders. Almost any crumb of food or other organic matter left exposed around the house will serve them as a meal. For this reason, good housekeeping is the key to cockroach control.
How to Control Cockroaches: Pesticides play an important role in controlling cockroaches. Non-chemical methods include improving sanitation, fixing plumbing leaks, removing harborage and clutter, and sealing areas where cockroaches enter structures.