What To Know About Common Pests

Termites:

Although beneficial to nature, in 2005, The National Pest Management Association estimated that termites caused over $5 BILLION in damage each year.

Termites have been around for almost 120 million years. They are social insects and live in colonies which are usually located in the ground or wood. Most termites feed on cellulose from wood and wood by-products (such as paper, cardboard, etc). There are about 50 species here in the United States. The Subterranean Termite is the most prevalent in Maryland.

Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring – groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies. Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.

Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks – workers, soldiers, primary reproductives and secondary reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite’s role in the colony:

Workers: Creamy white with head slightly darker; wings are absent. They can be separated into two groups: true workers who are sterile, and functional workers who are either male or female. Functional workers have the ability to molt into soldiers, swarmers, or secondary reproductives, depending on the colonies needs.

Soldiers: They are sterile and only have one function, to protect the colony. The enlargement of the head and mandibles is such that they must be fed by the workers and they are present in far fewer numbers than the workers. Nasutiform soldiers squirt a sticky, irritating liquid for defense.

Reproductives: Include the primary reproductives and secondary reproductives. The primary reproductives are the king and queen which are the swarmers that started the colony. The king and queen mate periodically, and the queen may live up to 30 years or longer.

Secondary Reproductives: They are produced in more mature colonies. They do not, nor have they ever, had wings and their body is slightly more pigmented than that of primary workers. Their eggs production makes possible the most rapid increasing size of older colonies.


Cockroaches:

Considered one of the most important and one of the most difficult insect to control in the pest control industry with over 4,000 species worldwide and about 70 species in the United States, cockroaches have changed very little over the past 400 million years. They infest homes and commercial establishments capable of carrying many types of food poisoning diseases as well as causing allergic reactions in many people, especially children.

Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, 6 kinds of parasitic worms, and at least 7 other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage, and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.

We work as a consultant with our customers to help alleviate your cockroach issues. This is a 5 step process in which it is imperative that the customer helps eliminate the condition conducive to the infestation.


Mice/Rats:

Mice and rats pose serious risks to your health and property. A single mouse can contaminate food and leave behind feces that put your family at risk of bacterial and viral infection. Mice can also bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into your home. Rats can chew through wiring, causing fires. They also spread numerous diseases. Micro droplets of mouse urine can cause allergies in children.

Many customers overlook the telltale signs of a rodent invasion of the home/property. This includes: gnaw marks, droppings, tracks/footprints, rub marks or dark greasy markings on vertical surfaces, runways, and/or damaged goods. Our trained professionals are able to identify how to rid these pests from your home or property.


Bed Bugs:

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius Linnaeus 1758) is an ectoparisite insect (a parasite which lives on the outside of the body of the host) of the family Cimicidae. 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. They may cause intense feelings of fear and anxiety, and are triggered for those who suffer from infestations.

Bed bugs like to travel and are good hitchhikers. They will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards and in cracks, crevices, and folded areas of beds, bedding and adjacent furniture, especially mattresses and box springs. Bed bugs can also hide in electrical switch plates, picture frames, and wallpaper, and nearly anywhere inside a home, car, bus, or other shelter. Bed bugs usually come out at night for a blood meal. However, they are opportunistic insects and can take a blood meal during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. Bed bugs usually require 5-10 minutes to engorge with blood. After feeding, they move to secluded places and hide for 5-10 days. During this time, they do not feed, but instead digest their meal, mate, and lay eggs.

We can treat your home/property and all of the items inside, so DO NOT throw anything away before calling us. Typically, it is more expensive to replace items (specifically beds) than it is to treat the infestation. As stated above, bedbugs can live in many more places that just your bed, so removing items does not necessarily mean removing the bugs.


Stink Bugs:

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), a native of Asia, is emerging as a major nuisance to homeowners in Maryland. Residents across Maryland are reporting large numbers of the insect in and around their homes and gardens and are seeking relief. This insect, notorious for its “smelly” reputation, earned its name from its tendency to release an odor when disturbed or when crushed (lady bugs have the same defense mechanism). Most stink bugs are herbivorous and use their piercing and sucking mouthparts to feed on plant juices.

While controlling these insects is challenging, consumers should never use, or allow anyone else to use, a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use, as indicated on the label. Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly can cause illness in people and pets. It can also make homes unsafe to live in – and may not solve the pest problem. For heavy infestations outdoors, make an appointment with us so we may help get the population under control.


Ants:

Ants are one of the most successful groups of insects. They are social insects that live in colonies which are usually located in the ground, but they may enter buildings for shelter and/or food. By about 2000, pest ants replaced cockroaches as being the most important and most difficult to control.

The biology and habits of each ant’s species are different, so a detailed knowledge of these for each species is necessary for effective control. Please contact our office for more information.


Bees/Wasps:

In parts of the United States, particularly in the eastern states, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and bees are all called bees by the general public. Of course the general public is principally focused on one attribute these insects have in common – their stingers. Knowledge of the behavior of these pests is essential to their management. Recognition of whether they solitary or social, and their particular nesting habits, is essential for safety and control. To avoid serious injury, contact us so we may send a trained professional to your home/property.


Spiders:

There are about 3,000 spiders here in the United States. Many of these species are household pests and wherever there is a food source available, spiders are likely to be found. All spiders are predators feeding on most small insects and other small arthropods. In the US, there are only two spider groups considered to be dangerous to people: widow spiders and recluse spiders. In Maryland it is important to recognize the most dangerous spiders, which are the Brown Recluse and Black Widow (pictured above). Both spiders can cause injury, and/or death. If you see one of these spiders, please contact us immediately.


Silverfish:

This insect gets its name from its silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. Silverfish have no wings, but are able to run very fast. They tend to hide their presence from humans which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well. Silverfish tend to feed on paper items, glue, clothing and food items, such as flour and rolled oats. Silverfish can live up to a year without food, but require a high humidity environment. They move fast and are typically nocturnal.

While silverfish are mainly a nuisance pest, they can contaminate food and damage paper goods, such as wall paper and books.


Ticks/Fleas:

Warm to high temperatures are ideal for flea reproduction and development. Flea control is therefore more difficult in warmer climates, where their entire reproductive cycle may be completed within two weeks. However, cold seasons do not deter flea reproduction and flea eggs are highly resilient to chemical treatment.

Upon hatching, flea larvae remain hidden within crevices and beneath carpeting. Vacuuming is sometimes successful in ridding the home of a portion of these eggs and larvae. Prior to using any chemical treatment, contact your local pest control professional.

Ticks found on pets or people require cautious and thorough removal. Ticks should be grasped behind the head by tweezers and pulled slowly away from the host’s skin. Crushing the tick may lead to the release of further dangerous fluids. It is important that the mouthparts be completely removed from the wound, as well. Infected areas should be thoroughly washed and medicated followed removal. In the event of illness resulting from a tick bite, seek medical attention immediately.


Flies:

The two most common flies we encounter are the House Fly and the Fruit Fly:

House flies – get their name from being the most common fly found around homes. Adult house flies can grow to one-quarter of an inch long and usually live between 15 and 25 days. They are only able to feed on liquids but have the ability to turn many solid foods into a liquid for them to eat. House flies taste with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive to sugar than the human tongue.

These insects have been known to carry over 100 different kinds of disease-causing germs, which make them very bad house guests.

Fruit Flies — Fruit flies feed on decaying matter, especially fruits and vegetables. Fruit flies are small pests that are commonly found in homes, restaurants and other facilities where food is processed. They are found on moist, decaying matter that has been stationary for several days.

Fruit flies are found in unsanitary conditions, so they are a potential heath concern, especially when present in health facilities.