Pest Library

Common Pest Types

Nobody wants pests in their home. A lot of times it’s out of your control when these pests do arrive and make themselves comfortable. If you’re wondering what the common pest types are and what they do, we’ve created a list for you. Browse below to see if you find the pest that’s living in your home.

Termites crawling around in a group.

Termites

Bed Bug Removal

Bed Bugs

Bug Zero Pest Control Services

Ants

Brown spider crawling across floor.

Spiders

Stinging Insects

Roaches

Fleas

Flies

Beetles

Outdoor Pests

Rats, Mice, & Wildlife

Mosquitoes

Group of termites crawling in wood.

Termites

  • The most common termite is the Eastern Subterranean found across North America
  • Feeds on cellulose materials i.e. wood structures, paper, books, and cotton
  • Eastern Subterranean termite colonies can range from 20,000 to a whopping 5 million workers
  • Multiple colonies can be found within one home
  • The notable sign of termite damage is the presence of tube-like hollows within a home’s wooden structure
  • The peak season of termite infestation is in the spring, however, termites are active year-round
Life cycle of the bed bug from egg to adult.

Bed Bugs

  • Six legged insects around 1/4″ in size
  • Mahogany to rusty brown, red after a blood meal
  • Nocturnal, hiding in a wide range of places including baseboards, suitcases, and even shoes
  • Primary sustenance is warm-blooded animals, very much including humans
  • Although they do not transmit disease, their bites become itchy, red welts
  • Prevent bed bugs by vacuuming suitcases after a vacation
  • A telltale sign of bed bugs is blood spots on bed sheets
  • Bed bugs get their name because they like to live and feed in beds.

Habits
Bed bugs like to travel and will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards, electrical switchplates, picture frames, even wall paper. They come out at night for a blood meal.

Habitat
Bed bugs like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. They can be found behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and in furniture crevices.

Threats
Although bed bugs can dine on any warm-blooded animal, they primarily dine on humans. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.

Prevention
Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation. Check your bedsheets for tell-tale blood spots. Bed bugs are elusive creatures, so it is imperative to seek professional pest control to address an infestation.

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Ant Types

Pavement Ant

Measure 2.5 to 4 millimeters long


Dark brown to blackish in color


Can contaminate food


Nest in or under cracks in pavement, or in structures

 

Pharaoh Ant

Measure 1/16″ in length


Body is pale, varying from yellowish to reddish, with a darker abdomen


Strongly implicated in the spread of various disease pathogens


Nest in warm, humid areas near sources of food and/or water


Nests are typically located in inaccessible areas like wall voids, behind baseboards, furniture, under floors, and between linens


Ants are winged and have stingers

 

Odorous House Ant

Tiny in size, ranging from 1/16″ to 1/8″ long


Identifiable by strong, rotten coconut smell given off when the ant is crushed


Can contaminate food


Nest in exposed soil and wall cracks

 

Carpenter ant closeup from the side.

Carpenter Ant

Ranging in size from 1/4″ for a worker up to 3/4″ for a queen


Black, sometimes red and black, in color


Rarely cause structural damage to buildings, but can cause significant damage over a period of years, and can also extensively damage foam insulation


Nest in live and dead trees, rotting logs, stumps, houses, telephone poles, and other wooden structures


Nests are commonly found in porch pillars and roofs, window sills, and wood that is in contact with the soil

 

Field Ant

Workers measure 1/8 inch” to 3/8″ in size


Brown, black, reddish, or a combination of these colors in appearance


Also commonly known as thatching ants


Can cause damage to masonry walls, concrete sidewalks, etc


Nest around small trees, shrubs, or rocks, or in cracks of sidewalks and along foundation walls

 

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Common Types of Spiders

Black widow crawling across ground.

Black Widow Spider

Around 3/4″ in length with a signature red hourglass shape on its black


A misconception is that female Black Widow spiders after mating devour their male


Spin their webs near ground level, near protected areas like piles of wood


Their venom is a neurotoxin used for self-defense


Only bite a human out of self-defense


Young children and the elderly are susceptible to a severe reaction to their bite


Wear gloves when moving objects that this spider might have used as a home, and check shoes for the spiders

 

Brown Recluse Spider

Light to dark brown with characteristic dark brown violin marking on its back


5/8″ in length


Active at night; eat other bugs like cockroaches and crickets


Often live outdoors in debris and wood piles, but can also be found in indoor storage areas and dark recesses


Only bite humans in self-defense


Bites can cause open, ulcerating sores


Avoid keeping clothing on the floor, store clothing and shoes in plastic containers, and shake out all clothing from hampers before washing or wearing

 

Hobo Spider

Colloquially known as funnel web spiders


One of the few North America spiders whose bites are considered medically significant


Lives within a funnel-shaped structure of webbing for prey to blunder into their web


Although known for its aggressiveness, the spider avoids contact with humans


Bites cause considerable pain and can cause tissue death (necrosis) near the bite

 

Wolf Spider

Around 1 & 1/2″ in length and have a leg span of 3”


One visual identifier are the spider’s 4 small eyes of equal size with two larger eyes above


Commonly feared due to its appearance and large size


They do not build webs, and do not enter structures unless venturing after food


These spiders are active hunters throughout both day and night

 

Woodlouse Spider

Colored dark cinnamon with an elongated abdomen with long fangs


The spider’s name comes from its primary prey, the woodlouse, also known as sow bugs or rolly-polley


Six small eyes scrunched serve a rudimentary function that likely detects only light from dark


The bite is highly benign to humans and only causes minor pain from penetration


This species is rarely found in abundance

 

Cellar Spider

One of the most common spiders found throughout North America


Commonly mistaken as granddaddy-long-legs


A darkened pattern around the eyes resembling a violin causes misidentification with the brown recluse


Commonly found in basements or other darkened recesses of the home


One sign of these spiders is their disorganized webbing that they create

 

Common Types of Stinging Insects

Yellowjackets

Known for their black and yellow patterned abdomen


Length varies from 3/8″ to 5/8″, with queens being 25% larger


Found worldwide with about 16 species occuring in the United States


Social insects with colonies ranging in the thousands


Highly defensive of their colonies, often found on structures and vegetation


Their sting can be life-threatening to those sensitive to their toxin


Feeds on sweet materials, during fall can be aggressive while seeking food

 

Paper Wasp

Brown and black with a pair of orange to pale brown oval patches on their abdomen


Name is derived from the paper-like material of which they construct their nests


Usually unaggressive wasps that are a nuisance pests


Semi-social living within small colonies


Disturbance of their nest will likely lead to the individual being stung


Colonies often hang from the home exterior, i.e. porch ceilings, eaves, and deck floor joints

Honey Bee

Social insects that are important to the pollination of flowers and over 100 crops in the U.S


Produce honey which feeds their young in colder months


The only social insect whose colony can survive many years


Often build nests within trees, but occasionally build in attics or chimneys


Removal should be handled by professionals due to colony and nest size

Baldface Hornet

Baldfaced with largely black body and white face


Found throughout the United States


Fast, active predators of other insects


Build strong, round, gray nests that range from the size of a softball to a basketball


Nests are built in the open and can be found as high as 66 ft or even higher


The diameter of their nests can reach 24″ in length

Bumble Bee

Body is black with yellow stripes


A beneficial insect, as they pollinate crops and plants


Have stingers, and can sting more than once


Nests are typically in the ground, but can also be found around patios and decks or in attic soffits

Carpenter Bee

Look like typical Bumble Bees, but often lack yellow stripes


Can damage wood through their nest building


Prefer to bore through bare wood


Occasionally attacks stained or painted wood

Mud Dauber

Resembles the Wasp and has a dark abdomen


Their name derives from the fact that they construct nests from mud


Found throughout the United States and considered a nuisance


Solitary insects that do not live in colonies


Create nests both with mud nests or burrow into soft wood

 

Roach Species

German Roach

Around 1/2″ to 1/8″ in length with two dark stripes behind the head


Prefers to live in kitchens and bathrooms of residential properties including homes, restaurants, supermarkets, and hospitals


Prefers cracks and crevices and harbors deep inside voids


Usually warm moist humid environments will allow populations to soar in great numbers quickly

Pennsylvania Roach

Adult males are approximately 1″ long; females grow to about 3/4″ long


Males are dark brown; the sides of the thorax and the front half of the wings are margined with yellow


Usually found outdoors beneath loose bark in woodpiles, stumps, and hollow trees


Attracted to lights at night and may gain entry indoors


Feeds primarily on decaying organic matter


Populations are expected to grow as sources of wood such as firewood, cedar shake shingles, and homes built in wooded areas grow

 

American Roach

Around 1 1/2″ in length, reddish brown with a pale yellow margin on the region behind the head


When disturbed, may run rapidly and adults may fly


Immature cockroaches resemble adults except that they are wingless


Prefer to live in moist areas and prefer warm temperatures of 84 degrees


Commonly found in basements, crawl spaces, cracks, and sewers

Oriental Roach

Nearly black shelled with males being 1″ in length and females 1 1/4″ in length


Survives on filth and enjoys temperatures from 64 to 84 degrees


Live in basements, crawl spaces, drains, leaf piles, and firewood outdoors


Sometimes called “water bugs” because they come out of drains

Group of termites crawling in wood.

Fleas

  • Most common is the cat flea
  • Approximately 1/8″ long
  • Laterally flattened bodies
  • Color is brownish black to black, but reddish black when full of blood
  • The flea life cycle is Egg, Larvae, Pupae, Adult
  • Females lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal, laying some 400-500 during their lifetime
  • Eggs are deposited on or between hairs, or in the nest or bedding material
  • Eggs deposited on the animal either fall or are shaken off and are found in cracks and crevices where pets sleep or frequent
  • Eggs are oval, whitish, and about 1/64″ long
  • Eggs usually hatch in 1-12 days
  • Once hatched larvae require relatively high humidity and 1-2 weeks up to several months to reach the pupal stage
  • Pupal stage typically lasts 4-14 days but can be up to a year under harsh conditions
  • Once in the Pupal stage pre-emerged adult fleas remain in a cocoon where they are protected from adverse conditions including pesticides
  • Pupating fleas do not emerge in an unoccupied home. Emergence is triggered by a potential host entering the room. This is why many people discover fleas upon their return from vacation or other extended absences.
  • CO2, body heat, footstep vibration, and footstep pressure are among the triggers

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Common Types of Flies

Phorid / Humpbacked / Scuttle Fly

Around 1/8” in size and tan to a dark brown in color


Similar to the fruit fly but is known for its humped back


Breeding sites found within moist, decaying organic matter i.e. sewers, trash, food beneath counters

Cluster Fly

Around 1/4″ in size, and dark gray in color with golden yellow hairs across the body


This species forms close-knit colonies that typically live in wall voids or attics


During cooler temperatures, the Cluster fly will go indoors to warmer temperatures


They do not multiply within indoor structures


They are sluggish in comparison to house flies


Around June or July is the best time to begin prevention

Fruit Fly

Oval-shaped with a tan colored body


Feeds on decaying fruits and vegetables


Commonly found in homes, restaurants and other facilities where food is processed


Found in unsanitary locations, they present a potential health concern


Remove kitchen trash daily, and keep counters clean

 

House Fly

House flies get their name from being the most common fly found in homes


They can only feed on liquids but have the ability to turn many solids into liquids for consumption


Known to carry over 100 different kinds of disease-causing germs


Proper sanitation is the best method to prevent the presence of house flies

Moth / Drain / Filter / Sewage Fly

  • Around 1/8” in size and covered in black scale-like hairs
  • Most common breeding site is within decaying organic matter such as drains or sewers

Blow / Bottle Fly

Medium-sized with a robust shape, and it is metallic-looking in appearance


It most often breeds in animal carcasses, garbage, animal manure, decaying vegetables, and decaying grass clippings and leaves

Darkwinged Fungus Gnat

Around 1/16” long with black long wings


Common breeding sites include fungus growing in moist soil and root hairs of plants


It takes 12 to 27 days to progress from egg to larvae to pupa to adult

 

Common Types of Beetles

Powderpost Beetle

The name describes several species of small 1/8″ to 3/4″ long, wood-boring insects that reduce wood to a flour-like powder


Damage is done by the larvae as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed


Infestations are discovered after noticing round “shot holes” in the wood surface where they have chewed out of the wood after completing den work


Most are introduced into homes in lumber or finished wood products, however, they will only lay their eggs on bare, unfinished wood


Early detection is the best prevention, replacing damaged wood and applying finish to the replacement can stop the infestation


When replacing damaged wood is not practical, the professionals at Bug Zero can treat infested areas to eliminate this pest

 

Ground Beetle

Around 1/16″ to 1 & 3/8″ long, often black but come in a brilliant array of other colors


About 2,500 known species of Ground Beetles in North America


Many exude or expel foul-smelling secretions that are used to repel enemies


Some are attracted to lights and enter the home by crawling through small openings and cracks in windows, doors, foundations, etc


Normally live outdoors and do not establish themselves indoors


They are not dangerous to humans, domestic animals (pets), structures, or household items


Remove objects where they can hide such as leaf piles, old boards, stone piles, firewood piles, etc. around house entrances


When found indoors, collect by broom and dustpan to relocate outside of the house since these predators are helpful in agriculture

 

Ladybugs

The most commonly known of the beneficial insects


Red oval, dome shelled with black spots, often with signature black spots – though the presence of the color varies


In the autumn, adults hibernate, sometimes in large numbers, in plant refuse and crevices


Sometimes they become a nuisance by their presence when congregating in and around homes


Caulk and seal spaces and gaps to prevent them from coming inside


Physically remove Lady Beetles found indoors

 

Japanese Beetle

Introduced into New Jersey on nursery stock from Japan in 1913


Larvae feed on roots of grass, herbaceous plants and nursery stock, while adults feed on foliage and fruit


Adult feeding results in skeletonization on foliage and flowers


Grubs feed on roots of grasses causing damage to pasture, lawn, and golf courses


A targeted application of an appropriate pesticide, by a licensed applicator, is the best means of controlling this pest

Flour Beetle

Common household pest that originates from infested grain, particularly cereal products such as flour, cornmeal, crackers, dry pet food, etc.


Both adults and small, off-white larvae will be found in an infested food item


The adult beetles often wander away from the infested material and will be found inside cupboards or anywhere in the house


Control of any stored food pest requires locating and eliminating the infested item(s)


Infested items can be thrown away or salvaged by freezing for 1 week or heating in a 140-degree oven for 15 minutes


Store susceptible foods in sealable glass, heavy plastic containers, or in the refrigerator until you are sure the infestation is gone

Common Types of Outdoor Pests

Boxelder Bug

Around 1/2” in length, is dark brown, and has three longitudinal red stripes on the thorax


Found throughout North America and Canada


Feeds on the Boxelder tree and other maples such as the Silver Maple


During winter these bugs will invade buildings and other structures

Camel / Cave / Stone Cricket

Size ranges from 1/2″ to 1 & 1/2″ and a humpbacked with brown in color


They do not make  chirping sounds, and they are wingless


Prefer moist areas i.e. basements, crawl spaces, and garages


They possess a powerful jumping ability

Field Cricket

Around 1/2” to 1 & 1/4” in length and are typically black, but can also be mustard yellow


Produces a signature chirping sound


Found worldwide, commonly living in pastures and meadows


Occasionally they will damage field crops

Sowbug

Oval and round when rolled up, colored a dark brown to black


Also known as “Pillbugs”


Live in damp locations, i.e. damp objects or under vegetable debris


They do not spread disease or invade food products but are considered pests once inside the home


Once inside, they will commonly dry out and die

 

Clover Mite

Smaller than a pinhead, oval-shaped arachnids, reddish-brown to olive in color


Sometimes invade homes in enormous numbers in early spring and late autumn


A crushed Clover Mite leaves a reddish stain quite noticeable on linens, curtains, walls, and woodwork


They do not bite humans, nor transmit disease, nor feed on household furnishings or pantry supplies


Eggs remain dormant during the summer, hatching when temperatures fall below 85 F


Use a vacuum cleaner to effectively collect live mites without crushing them. Then burn vacuum bag or take to a garbage disposal far from the house

 

Earwigs

Long, narrow insects that are dark brown in color


Name is derived from the myth that they crawl into sleeping people’s ears and tunnel into their brains


The long cerci, or clippers, on their backsides easily identify an earwig


Hide during the day and feeds on vegetation, fruits, mold, and other insects


Commonly found beneath lawn debris, mulch, or in tree knots


They do not spread diseases

Springtails

About 700 species of Springtails occur in North America, and more than 6,000 worldwide


Move rapidly because of a “springing” device on their abdomen called a furcula


Their food includes decaying vegetation, fungi, bacteria, pollen, algae, lichens, and insect feces


Invade structures in search of moisture when their usual habitat becomes dry


They are attracted to light and can enter houses through cracks and crevices of homes

Two bagworms side by side.

Bagworms

Adult bagworms differ in appearance depending on their gender.  Males are black with clear wings while females are whitish in color and do not have wings, antennae, legs, or mouthparts


They form cone-shaped bags which are carefully interwoven using silk and bits of leaves and twigs from the host plant


They inhabit regions of the United States that are east of the Mississippi River


They live in trees and shrubs and prefer coniferous trees, arborvitae, juniper and cedar


Shrubs and trees can become stripped of their foliage and needles in a very short period of time, especially if there is a large infestation

 

Lone Star Tick

Recognizable by deep brown exterior, adult females have a prominent white dot on their backs


Known to spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and Lyme disease


Commonly found in south-central and southeastern regions of the US


Can be found indoors after attaching themselves to humans or their pets


Adults can be found on large animals i.e. cattle, deer, and horses

 

Mayfly

These aquatic insects are not “flies” at all, and are also called Shadflies or Lakeflies


Eggs are deposited in water and the nymphs live at the bottom of streams, pools, and lakes


Adults are attracted to light at night and often occur in tremendous numbers during the summer


A major source of inhalant allergy


Dead mayflies break into pieces and are carried by the wind, and can then be inhaled

 

Rats, Mice and Wildlife Pests

Skunks

Member of the weasel family and is represented by four species in North America


Characterized by prominent, lateral white stripes that run down its back, otherwise the fur is jet-black


About the size of a house cat and weighing about 8 pounds


Has the ability to repeatedly discharge a nauseating musk from its anal glands


Inhabit clearings, pastures, and open lands bordering forests, and establish dens in hollow logs or trees


Burrow under porches or buildings, open garbage seeking food, destroy gardens eating both pants and digging soil for grubs


Primary carrier of rabies in the Midwest

 

Raccoons

Stocky mammals about 2 to 3 feet long, weighing 10 to 30 pounds


Known for its distinctive black “mask” over its eyes and heavily furred, ringed tail


Found in hardwood forests near water, living in hollow trees, ground burrows, desolate buildings, and rock crevices


Nuisance due to their habit of raiding garbage in search of food and destruction gaining entrance into homes for warmth


Reported rabies in both them and other wildlife has increased dramatically over the past 30 years

Squirrels

Measure 18” to 27” with a wide-variety of fur colors


In areas of 10% forest cover, fox and gray squirrel populations may be equal


In residential areas, they travel power lines and short out transformers


Remove food at feeders intended for birds


Occasionally enter birdhouses to devour the nestling songbirds


In gardens may eat planted seeds, mature fruits, or grains such as corn

Bat flying through the air at night.

Bats

The only mammal that can fly


Found worldwide and includes 900 species, second only to rodents among mammals


When congregating in groups are called colonial bats, and alone are known as solitary bats


Can be found above swimming pools from which they drink or catch insects


Enter buildings via cracks in roof edges, eaves, chimneys, vents, and walls

Norway Rat / Sewer Rat

Around 11” in length with thick fur of gray, brown, or black


Excellent climbers and often enter the home during the fall when food is scarce


Norway rats live in fields, farmlands, and in structures


Ability to chew through wiring, causing fires, and also spread numerous diseases

Closeup shot of an armadillo burrowing.

Armadillos

Has a protective armor that is divided into nine shields


It prefers sandy or loam soils that are loose and porous for its burrows


Most damage occurs as a result of their rooting in lawns, golf courses, vegetable gardens, and flower beds


Characteristic signs of activity are shallow holes, 1 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 5 inches wide, which are dug in search of food


Known to keep homeowners awake at night by rubbing their shells against houses or other structures

 

Opossums

White to gray mammal about the size of a house cat that can weigh as much as 14 pounds


Skull is usually 3″ to 4″ long and contains 50 teeth – more than any other North American mammal


Habitats are diverse, ranging from arid to moist, wooded to open fields


Occasionally den in attics and garages where they make a messy nest


Can be a nuisance when near the home where they disturb garbage, bird feeders, or pet food

 

House Mouse

Around 2” with light brown to black fur


The most common rodent pest in most of the world


Breeds year-round, and often living in structures but can live outside


Micro droplets of their urine can cause allergies in children


Carrier of fleas, mites, ticks, and lice


Prevention of mice begins with the sealing of all holes that are over the size of a nickel

 

Snakes

Only a handful of snakes are poisonous in the United States, this group is known as pit vipers


Pit vipers have a pit on each side of their head, midway between the eye and the nostril – nonpoisonous snakes do not have these pits


The underside of the tail of the pit vipers have scales go across in one row, nonpoisonous have two rows of scales beneath


The pupil of a pit viper is elliptical that in bright light displays an almost vertical line, nonpoisonous snake eyes are perfectly round


In general, they enjoy cool, damp, dark areas where they can find food

 

Woodchucks / Ground Hogs

Woodchucks burrows give shelter to amphibians, reptiles, smaller rodents, and even larger animals such as foxes


Female woodchucks have dependent young in the burrows from late winter until spring or early summer


Woodchucks like to navigate through fairly high vegetation


Keeping undergrowth and grass cover low will help deny woodchucks the security they seek before burrowing around buildings and homes


Woodchucks hibernate in early November through late February

 

Mosquitoes

  • Pale brown flying insects with milky stripes across abdomen
  • Breed in stagnant water or soft soil, develops from egg to adult in 10 to 14 days
  • Spread diseases such as West Nile Virus, malaria and dengue fever
  • Reduce mosquito populations by emptying standing water at least once a week
  • Place mosquito-eating fish such as gambusia and minnows to standing water
  • Protect against with screen windows, doors, and other opening with mesh
  • Avoid going outdoors when they are the most active: during dusk and dawn
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET on skin to help prevent mosquito bite

Mosquito Treatment

If mosquitoes are ruining your outdoor summer activities, Bug Zero offers many options to suppress these outdoor pests.  Whether for gated communities, campgrounds, golf courses, ball parks, stadiums, outdoor parties, weddings, homes, businesses, or any other outdoor area where mosquitoes are a problem, Bug Zero’s certified technicians have the necessary equipment and knowledge to address your mosquito control needs.

Bug Zero’s mosquito control services include site evaluation and recommendation, larval control in all types of water, long-lasting surface and foliar applications, and Thermal Fog applications with the “Skeeter Deleter.” Our technicians are Public Health Pest Control and Aquatic Pest Control certified and will help make your summer outdoor activities enjoyable once again.

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