Northwest Florida Pest Library
The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus), is the largest of the common peridomestic cockroaches measuring on average 4 cm in length. It occurs in buildings throughout Florida especially in commercial buildings. In the northern United States the cockroach is mainly found in steam heat tunnels or large institutional buildings. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in abundance
The Asian cockroach was identified as a newly introduced species to the United States in 1986 when a professional pest control operator collected these insects in Lakeland, Florida. He referred to them as German cockroaches, Blattella germanica (L.), but noted that their behavior was unlike any other German cockroaches that he had previously encountered. Upon further investigation the cockroaches were found to be B. asahinai, Asian cockroaches.
Size: As large as 1-1/2 inches in length.
Color: Dark mahogany brown.
This cockroach is a ready flier and easily travels from trees onto houses. It is commonly attracted to homes to feed on improperly maintained trash containers and pet food on patios and decks. Once by the house, the insect may then enter.
The smoky brown cockroach usually invades the attic or crawl space where it finds conditions similar to those found within a tree hole. Once populations grow large inside these areas, the cockroaches regularly venture down into the home. The occasional cockroach may wander into a home from harborage outside but chronic infestations are most always associated with attic or crawl space populations. Research has shown that attics and crawl spaces that have good ventilation are less likely to have these cockroaches living within them. The smoky brown is a common pest of homes along the Gulf Coast from central Florida to eastern Texas. It is also found in a few areas of Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles area.
The German cockroach is the cockroach of concern, the species that gives all other cockroaches a bad name. It occurs in structures throughout Florida, and is the species that typically plagues multifamily dwellings. In Florida, the German cockroach may be confused with the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai Mizukubo. While these cockroaches are very similar, there are some differences that a practiced eye can discern.
The origin of the oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis Linnaeus, is uncertain, but it is thought to be from Africa or south Russia. It is a major household pest in parts of the northwest, mid-west, and southern United States. It is also sometimes referred to as the "black beetle" or a "water bug" because of its dark black appearance and tendency to harbor in damp locations.
Argentine Ant, Liniepithema humile Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), was introduced into Louisiana in 1890 on coffee ships from Brazil. It has since spread to most of the southern United States where it has become a nuisance pest in the urban environment. It can and does disrupt ecosystems by directly displacing other ant species and other insects. Argentine ants utilize a wide variety of food sources that include protein (live or dead insects) and substances rich in sugars such as honeydew secretions from aphids. Foraging worker ants will also search for food indoors. Argentine ants form large colonies that can include numerous nesting sites that can cover a large area.
Foraging Characteristics: Medium sized ant with a slender body, uniformly light brown or brown. Workers smell stale, greasy, or musty when crushed. Workers often present in large numbers moving in trails. Trails may be similar to white-footed ant trails, but ants are more slender and move more quickly so foraging trails may not appear as condensed. Workers may overwhelm outdoor eating areas, even entering parked cars.
Detailed Description: 2.2-2.6 mm (1/11-1/10 in) long. Twelve-segmented antennae without club. One segmented petiole. Petiole with vertically projecting scale. Body hairs usually absent from thorax. No sting. Subfamily Dolichoderinae.
Most Common Complaint: Many foragers inside and out. Does not normally nest indoors, and can often be excluded from buildings. Spraying outdoors may reduce numbers around buildings, but more may move in from surrounding areas. Baiting may reduce colonies outdoors.
Nest Sites & Characteristics: Multiple queens in many widespread subcolonies that dominate areas with millions of ants. Open habitats, both moist and dry. Usually in heavily disturbed sites but can invade natural environments. Nest in mulch and soil, under objects on soil or near tree roots, in trees, in rotten wood, and garbage piles.
Diet: Tend sap-sucking insects to collect honeydew. Feed at extrafloral and floral nectaries. Forage for sweets and proteins in homes.
David Westervelt, email@example.com, Apiary Inspector and Researcher, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
Eric T. Jameson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Apiary Inspector, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
The Florida carpenter ant complex is comprised of several species, two of which are common around structures: Camponotus floridanus (Buckley) and Camponotus tortuganus (Emery). These bicolored arboreal ants are among the largest ants found in Florida, making them apparent as they forage or fly indoors and out.
Over the last few years reports have escalated of a golden-brown to reddish-brown "crazy ant" infesting properties in and around West Palm Beach, Florida. Thick foraging trails with thousands of ants occur along sidewalks, around buildings, and on trees and shrubs. Pest control operators using liquid and/or granular broad-range insecticides appear unable to control this nuisance ant.
RIFA is native to central South America. It is also established in the U.S. and Australia (Queensland, near Brisbane - as of 2001) (Shattuck and Barnett 2005).
It has been reported in Antiqua and Babuda, Bahamas, the British and U.S. Virgin Inslands, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands (ISSG 2006).
Populations in New Zealand and mainland China are either currently eradicated (N.Z.) or undergoing eradication (China) (ISSG 2006).
In the U.S., RIFA was first introduced from Brazil into either Mobile, Alabama, or Pensacola, Florida, between 1933 and 1945. However, the RIFA infests Puerto Rico, and all or part of many southern and western states from Maryland to southern California (Mobley and Redding 2005).
As of August 2008, the following U.S. states have established infestations: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The infestations in Maryland and Virginia are sparse and still not formally recognized on USDA maps. Small, localized populations exist in the San Francisco Bay area (David Williams, personal communication, 18 August 2008).
Prior to the advent of chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, and carbamates the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger), was a problem in Florida. The use of persistent pesticide chemicals reduced the populations of the ants until they were no longer a menace. With the reduction in the use of these persistent pesticide chemicals populations of little fire ants have been allowed to increase, and in some areas, to develop into a serious problem.
The ant, Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus), is commonly known as the Pharaoh ant. The name possibly arises from the mistaken tradition that it was one of the plagues of ancient Egypt (Peacock et al. 1950). This ant is distributed worldwide, is one of the more common household ants, and carries the dubious distinction of being the most difficult household ant to control.
Acrobat ants are small to medium sized ants, generally 2.6 to 3.2 mm long. They have very shiny bodies that are variable in color from light red to brown or black. An acrobat ant's most distinguishing characteristic is its heart-shaped gaster that is held up over its thorax when disturbed.
Crematogaster ashmeadi has a two-segmented petiole, with the postpetiolar attachment at the dorsal surface of the gaster. The gaster is pointed and equipped with a sting that may or may not be everted (Ferster et al. 2000). There is a pair of short spines on the propodeum, and a few hairs on the head or mesosoma. It is difficult to identify ants to species in the genus Crematogaster, but a new taxonomic key for Florida species is forthcoming (Deyrup, personal communication). C. ashmeadi may be distinguished from other species by its shiny pronotal sides and generally dark color (in live specimens).
Workers are dimorphic (major and minor workers). The BHA receives its common name from the large-sized head of the major worker, or "soldier." Minor workers are small (2 mm) reddish brown ants. The majors are much larger (3 to 4 mm), but only constitute about 1% of foragers. The front half of the major's head is sculptured, while the back half is smooth and shiny. The petiole (waist) of both worker forms is two-segmented and the post-petiolar node is conspicuously swollen. The antenna is twelve-segmented with a three-segmented club. The entire body is covered with sparse, long hairs. Workers have a pair of short propodeal spines (spines on waist) facing almost directly upward. There is usually a dark spot on the underside of the gaster.
Paratrechina pubens is part of a group of ants referred to as "crazy ants" due to their quick and erratic movements. The Caribbean crazy ant is a medium-small (2.6 to 3 mm long), monomorphic, golden-brown to reddish-brown ant. The body surface is smooth and glossy, and covered with dense pubescence (hairs). After feeding, the ant's gaster (rear portion of the abdomen) will appear to be striped due to stretching of the light-colored membrane connecting segments of the gaster. Antennae have 12 segments with no club. The antennal scape is nearly twice the width of the head. This ant has one petiolar segment and does not sting.
The adults are dark rust red in color (Haack and Granovsky 1990), with the worker caste strongly polymorphic (1/4 to 3/8 inch long) (Smith and Whitman 1992). The major worker has a disproportionally enlarged head (after Creighton 1950).
Like most other Pogonomyrmex spp. the Florida harvester ant has a psammophore (rows of long hair on ventral side of head) but it is poorly developed (Smith and Whitman 1992). The antennae are clubless with twelve segments. The thoracic dorsum has the sutures obsolescent or absent, and the thorax is not impressed between the masonotum and epinotum; The abdominal pedicel consists of two segments. The tibial spurs on the middle and hind legs are very finely pectinate.
The ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius), was considered a nuisance ant that was occasionally important as a house pest within Florida as late as 1988. Field populations were confined to South Florida although active colonies had been reported as far north as Gainesville, in Alachua County (Bloomcamp and Bieman, personal communication) and Duval County, (Mattis et al. 2004). But by 1995, if not before, the ghost ant was common in central and southern Florida and had been elevated to major pest status (Klotz et al. 1995). In more northerly states, infestations are confined to greenhouses or other buildings that provide conditions necessary for survival, as the ant is a tropical species either of African or Oriental origin (Wheeler 1910). However, this introduced ant species is so widely distributed by commerce that it is impossible to determine its original home (Smith 1965).Ghost ant workers are extremely small, 1.3 to 1.5 mm long and monomorphic (one-sized). They have 12-segmented antennae with the segments gradually thickening towards the tip. Antennal scapes surpass the occipital border. Head and thorax are a deep dark brown with gaster and legs opaque or milky white (Creighton 1950). The thorax is spineless.
The white-footed ant, Technomyrmex difficilis (Bolton), has become an important pest ant in Florida. Previously identifed as T. albipes (Fr. Smith), it was correctly indentified in 2007 as T. difficilis (Bolton 2007). Pest control companies, the media and homeowners continually consult universities and government agencies for information on how to control this nuisance ant. This publication provides recent information (as of August 2002) on the distribution and habits of the white-footed ant (WFA) in Florida and the research being conducted on improved control practices.The WFA is a medium small (2.5-3 mm long), black to brownish-black ant with yellowish-white tarsi (feet) and a one-segmented waist. A member of the subfamily Dolichoderinae, WFA have five abdominal segments, 12-segmented antennae, few erect hairs, and no sting.
Foraging Characteristics: Tiny to small dark brown to pale blond ants. Soft bodied, abdomen covers petiole. May be seen excitedly running up and down vertical objects in yards, such as blades of grass, chairs, and fence posts, accompanied by larger winged individuals. Most often seen as dead, winged alates floating in pools in large numbers; their swollen bodies look striped. Female winged alates are three times larger than workers, males small enough to fit through mosquito screening.
Nest Sites & Characteristics: Under stones in the soil, or in rotting wood.
Detailed Description: 1.5-2 mm (1/16-1/12 in) long. Integument soft. Nine-segmented antennae. One segmentedpetiole, node inclined, usually concealed by base of gaster. No sting. Mesoepinotal impression distinct. Epinotum with short base and very long, sloping declivity. Subfamily Formicinae.
Most Common Complaints: Dead alates floating in pools. Males much smaller than female alates and may not even look like ants because of their size and straight antennae. Males are small enough to penetrate patio screening. Foragers on outdoor furniture and structures. Control for alates not necessary or practical.
Diet: Tend sap-sucking insects to collect honeydew.
Foraging Characteristics: Medium sized, pale orange to dark brown, slender and elongate ant. Foraging singly, moving quickly. Nest is distinctive cone-shaped mound in sandy soil. Ant does not sting or act aggressively. Nests not large. Workers have strong odor when crushed described by some as rotting coconuts.
Nest Sites & Characteristics: Nest in soil, sandy soil preferred. Typically, nest has a single entrance surrounded by crater-shaped mound of soil and a single queen per nest. One dark colored species, however, is a temporary parasite on the most common orange species and occupies a number of nests at a time, with multiple queens.
Diet: Hunt live insects, including winged fire ants. Collect honeydew from sap-sucking insects.
Detailed Description: 2-4 mm (1/12–1/6 in) long. Integument thin. Twelve-segmented antennae. Propodeum bearing a tooth-like protuberance projecting vertically in side view. Ventral surface of head with a few very long, curved hairs, used for carrying pellets of damp sand. Subfamily Dolichoderinae.
Most Common Complaint: Crater-like nests in open areas of yard. These ants are outdoor species and chemical control is usually unwarranted.
Flight Season: Fall to spring or some species, year-round for others. Warm and humid weather.
The European earwig, Forficula auricularia Linnaeus 1758, is intercepted in Florida frequently in bundles of plants and shrubbery, in cut flowers, and in florists' equipment arriving from the western United States. This insect is spread largely by man. Spread by natural means is limited because earwigs seldom fly and cannot maintain flight very long. It has not yet become established in Florida, but it has the potential to do so, at least in the northern part of the state. This earwig was recorded first in the United States at Newport, Rhode Island in 1911 (Jones 1917). Jones (1917) reported a small colony from Seattle, Washington in 1915. Later evidence indicated that it first invaded North America somewhere on the west coast in the early 1900s. Eventually it became widespread in the New England and Middle Atlantic states and throughout most of the western states, especially where there is abundant rainfall or irrigation to provide moisture and food. It became the dominant species of earwig in most of these areas.
This is the most common pest earwig in Florida, though it rarely builds to very high numbers. It is mostly known as a nuisance, and the small amount of plant feeding injury it causes likely is offset by its beneficial predatory habits.
First found in the United States in 1884, the ringlegged earwig now is widespread in the southern states and in Hawaii. It is also known from many northern states, and from southern Canada. It likely is of European origin, and has been transported to many other areas of the world, including both tropical and temperate climates.
Description and Life Cycle:
Under greenhouse conditions in Ohio, three generations a year were observed, one each in the spring, autumn, and winter months. A complete generation can be completed in 61 days (Klostermeyer 1942). Thus, under field conditions, it seem probable that at least two generations occur, one each in spring and autumn, at least in warm climates. In Illinois, adults can be found throughout the year except during winter when adults seek shelter deep in the soil.
Silverfish (Figure 2) and firebrats may cause damage in the home by eating foods or other materials that are high in protein, sugar, or starch. They eat cereals, moist wheat flour, paper on which there is glue or paste, sizing in paper and bookbindings, starch in clothing, and rayon fabrics.
Silverfish and firebrats are common in homes. The silverfish lives and develops in damp, cool places. Large numbers may be found in new buildings in which the newly plastered walls are still damp. The firebrat lives and develops in hot, dark places, such as around furnaces and fireplaces, and in insulations around hot water or steam pipes.
In apartment buildings the insects follow pipelines to rooms in search of food. They may be found in bookcases, around closet shelves, behind baseboards, windows or door frames.
Silverfish and firebrats are both slender, wingless insects and their bodies are covered with scales. Adults are about one-third to one-half inch long. Silverfish are shiny and silver or pearl-gray in color. Firebrats are mottled gray. The young insects look like adults except they are smaller.
Both insects have two long slender antennae attached to their heads and three long tail-like appendages at the hind end. Each appendage is almost as long as the body.
Silverfish and firebrats are active at night and hide during the day. When objects under which they hide are moved, they dart about seeking a new hiding place.
The genus Zethus is in the subfamily Eumeninae, which contains the mason and potter wasps. However, many Zethus species typically make their nests in twigs and branches (Porter 1978) using old insect burrows, although ground nesting is also common.
Members of the genus Zethus are widespread throughout the New World tropics. According to Bohart and Stange (1965) there are 189 recognized species in the Western Hemisphere, with the greatest number in the Brazilian region of South America. However, Porter (1978) lists only 187 in the same area. Arnett (2000) and Porter (1978) list seven species in America north of Mexico, two of which occur in Florida.
Z. spinipes Say has two subspecies found in the eastern United States, and Z. slossonae Fox is known from southern Florida. Zethus are easily mistaken for potter wasps (Eumenes) commonly found around the home. Unlike Eumenes spp. which build nests of mud, Zethus use either abandoned burrows of other insects or build nests from vegetable matter and resin.
Only two of the 16 Nearctic species of Vespula are known from Florida (Miller 1961). These are the two yellowjackets: eastern yellowjacket, V. maculifrons (Buysson), and the southern yellowjacket, V. squamosa (Drury). One species of Dolichovespula is also present: the baldfaced hornet, D. maculata (Linnaeus). The baldfaced hornet is actually a yellowjacket. It receives its common name of baldfaced from its largely black color but mostly white face, and that of hornet because of its large size and aerial nest. In general, the term "hornet" is used for species which nest above ground and the term "yellowjacket" for those which make subterranean nests. All species are social, living in colonies of hundreds to thousands of individuals.
Paper Wasp (AKA “Mahogany Wasp”) is the common name for medium- to large-sized wasps that construct nests made of a papery material. The nests consist of a single upside-down layer of brood cells (compartments for the young). There are 22 species of paper wasps in North America and approximately 700 species world-wide. Most are found in the tropics of the western hemisphere.
Most paper wasps measure about 2 cm (0.75 in) long and are black, brown, or reddish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps will defend their nest if attacked. Adults forage for nectar, their source of energy, and for caterpillars to feed the larvae (young). They are natural enemies of many garden insect pests. A widespread North American species is the golden paper wasp.
The nests of most species are suspended from a single, central stalk and have the shape of an upside-down umbrella. Some tropical species make nests that hang in a vertical sheet of cells. Plant and wood fibers are collected by the wasps, mixed with saliva, and chewed into a papier-męch?-like material that is formed into the thin cells of the nest. The nests are constructed in protected places, such as under the eaves of buildings or in dense vegetation. Normally a colony of several to several dozen paper wasps inhabit the nest.
The colony is founded in early spring, soon after the queens (mated females) emerge from hibernation. As the colony matures, males and the next year's queens are produced. These queens mate with males and are the only members of the colony to survive through winter. In late summer or fall, the founding queen, workers (unmated females), and males all die. The newly mated queens hibernate, typically in piles of wood, in vegetation, or in holes. The following spring they emerge and begin the cycle anew. A similar life cycle is found in bumble bees.
In most temperate species of paper wasps, colonies are founded by one female who dominates the colony and lays most of the eggs. This female constructs the nest, lays eggs, forages, and raises the first generation of offspring. She then stops foraging, becomes the queen, and rules by dominating her offspring of workers. This is a classic dominance hierarchy with the queen maintaining control through aggressive interactions. Each individual in line maintains dominance over all others below her through confrontation and aggressive interactions. If the queen dies or is otherwise lost, the most aggressive worker takes over. This worker begins laying eggs and continues to dominate all below her. Since the workers have not mated, they can only lay unfertilized eggs, which develop into males, a typical trait in wasps.
Some queens that are unsuccessful at establishing their own nest may join another queen, submitting to her dominance and becoming a worker. Studies have shown that such individuals, called joiners, are most often sisters of the queen. Since this individual mated the previous fall, her eggs can develop into workers and she could become the next queen if the founding queen is lost. Occasionally a joiner dominates the founding queen and takes over the nest, a behavior known as usurpation. In such rare cases, the usurper becomes the queen and the previous queen becomes a worker.
Scientific classification: Paper wasps are in the genus Polistes in the family Vespidae, which also includes potter wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. The golden paper wasp is Polistes fuscatus.
Chandler (1958) lists four types of damage done by carpenter bees: weakening of structural timbers, gallery excavation in wooden water tanks (especially in arid western areas), defecation streaking on houses or painted structures, and human annoyance. The last point is included since carpenter bee females may sting (rarely), and male bees may hover or dart at humans who venture into the nesting area. In general, carpenter bees are not much of a problem.
Carpenter bees rarely attack painted or varnished wood. While natural wood may be attractive, if there is a problem with carpenter bees, you may have to apply a finish to the wood. These bees often cause problems on structures by boring into the surface of the wood that is the back face of the trim under the eaves, as this surface is usually not painted. A buzzing or drilling sound is heard when the bee is boring into the wood. If the hole is not visible, often the case when the bee is boring into the backside of trim, look for sawdust on the ground under the hole.
Entry hole drilled into structural wood by a large carpenter bee, Xylocopasp
Internal damage to structural wood by a large carpenter bee, Xylocopasp., showing individual larval cells.
If problems do arise, use a small amount of insecticide that is labeled for bees and wasps: this can be dust, wettable powders, microencapsulated products, or aerosols. The labeled pesticide should be blown into the nesting holes. This is more safely done with aerosols than with the other formulations. After a few days, to allow the adult female to become exposed to the pesticide, the holes should be plugged with plastic wood, putty, or similar substance.
Pantry PestsClick on photo to view information.
Sometimes referred to as "red coats," "chinches," or "mahogany flats" (USDA 1976), bed bugs, Cimex lectularius Linnaeus, are blood feeding parasites of humans, chickens, bats and occasionally domesticated animals (Usinger 1966). Bed bugs are suspected carriers of leprosy, oriental sore, Q-fever, and brucellosis (Krueger 2000) but have never been implicated in the spread of disease to humans (Dolling 1991). After the development and use of modern insecticides, such as DDT, bed bug infestations have virtually disappeared. However, since 1995, pest management professionals have noticed an increase in bed bug related complaints (Krueger 2000).
The adult bed bug is a broadly flattened, ovoid, insect with greatly reduced wings (Schuh and Slater 1995). The reduced fore wings, or hemelytra, are broader than they are long, with a somewhat rectangular appearance. The sides of the pronotum are covered with short, stiff hairs (Furman and Catts 1970). Before feeding, bed bugs are usually brown in color and range from 6 to 9.5 mm in length. After feeding, the body is often swollen and red in color (USDA 1976).
Dermacentor variabilis (Say), also known as the American dog tick or wood tick, is found predominantly in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, and as its name suggests, is most commonly found on dogs as an adult. The tick also occurs in certain areas of Canada, Mexico and the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. (Mcnemee et al. 2003). Dermacentor variabilis is a 3-host tick, targeting smaller mammals as a larva and nymph and larger mammals as an adult. Although it is normally found on dogs, this tick will readily attack larger animals, such as cattle, horses, and even humans. The 8-legged adult is a vector of the pathogens causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and tularemia, and can cause canine tick paralysis. While the American dog tick can be managed without pesticides, when necessary a recommended acaricide is an effective way of eliminating an existing tick infestation near residences.
Lyme disease was first recognized in 1975 as a distinct clinical disorder (Steere et al. 1977) and is currently the most frequently reported vector-borne disease in the United States (CDC 1995). Transmission of the spirochete B. burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease (Burgdorfer et al. 1982), occurs by the bite of Ixodes ticks. In the United States, the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say affects the greatest number of people for three principal reasons: their geographic distribution coincides in the northeastern United States with the greatest concentration of humans (Miller et al. 1990); spirochete infection rates are high, often exceeding 25% (Burgdorfer et al. 1982, Anderson et al. 1983, Magnarelli et al. 1986); and the geographical range of the tick is spreading (Lastavica et al. 1989, Anderson et al. 1990, Godsey et al. 1987, Davis et al. 1984).
Adult deer ticks have no white markings on the dorsal area nor do they have eyes or festoons. They are about 3 mm and dark brown to black in color. Adults exhibit sexual dimorphism. Females typically have the area behind the scutum with an orange to red color.
The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille, is unusual among ticks, in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. Because of this, it can establish populations in colder climates, and has been found in much of the world. Many tick species can be carried indoors on animals, but cannot complete their entire life cycle inside. Although R. sanguineus will feed on a wide variety of mammals, dogs are the preferred host in the U.S. and appear to be required to develop large infestations.
Infestations in houses can explode to very high levels quickly. Typically, a few ticks are brought into the house or kennel, often on a dog which has been away from home. The early stages of the infestation, when only a few individuals are present, are often missed completely. The first indication the dog owner has that there is a problem is when they start noticing ticks crawling up the walls or curtains!
Among ticks in Florida, this tick is easily recognized. It is small, red-brown in color (called the red dog tick in other parts of the world), and lacking any ornamentation. Although not sufficient for formal identification, it can be recognized by its by red-brown color, elongated body shape, and hexagonal basis capituli. The hexagonal basis capituli is a particularly good identifying character, as only one other tick species with this feature has ever been found in Florida (Boophilus annulatus, the cattle tick). The cattle tick was eradicated from Florida many years ago, so ticks found in Florida now with a hexagonal basis captituli are almost certainly R. sanguineus.
Did you know that the flea has killed more people than all the wars in human history? It's true. The pest that irritates your dogs and cats so much can spread the bubonic plague that killed one-fourth of Europe's population during the 14th Century. In fact, pests are known to transmit 15 major disease-causing organisms. They also spread hundreds of other organisms which can make your life miserable.
Fleas thrive in Florida’s temperate climate and are not only introduced into yards as parasites on cats and dogs, but also on various other hosts such as squirrels, raccoons, rats, mice, and bats. They feed upon external body surfaces much like their relatives: ticks, lice, bedbugs, chiggers, mites, flies and mosquitoes. Fleas survive by sucking the blood of their hosts; and, although they prefer dogs and cats, they also attack humans.
Fleas reproduce very rapidly and abundantly. They go through a complete metamorphosis which means there are four stages of life: egg, larval, pupa and adult. One of the most important reasons why fleas can be so difficult to control is because they are resistant to insecticides while in both the egg and pupal stages. The pupal stage generally lasts from 7 to 10 days, but if there is no host around, the adult flea can survive, dormant, in the cocoon for up to six months. Another control issue is that they often develop down in carpet fibers and cracks/crevices where they can remain somewhat protected from the chemical applications.
A successful curative flea control program requires the coordination of several steps: site preparation, pet treatment, and home/yard application of insect control products. For site preparation, you will need to completely expose the entire floor surface in the treatment areas by removing any items from the floor, perhaps even in the areas under beds and in closets (particularly if your pets sleeps or rests there). This will clear out the area and allow for a thorough cleaning and effective insecticide treatment in any place where the fleas might be found. Vacuum all carpeting/rugs, furniture and around favorite pet areas daily. Remove and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. This process will remove dirt/debris and allow for the treatment to better reach fleas down in the carpet fibers. Also, this process actually removes some of the flea eggs and adult fleas. In addition, the vacuum cleaner can provide a source of vibration which stimulates fleas to emerge from the pupal stage into adults, making them susceptible to the insecticide application while the chemical residual is still most active. It’s also important to either discard or wash (in hot water) all pet bedding or affected linens. For treatment of substructure areas (i.e., such as may be necessary under mobile homes, decks, etc.), crawlspaces, or yards, if at all possible, everything needs to be picked up to allow the ground surface to be thoroughly treated. Also, to further allow for flea exposure to the chemical, the yard should be completely groomed---grass mowed and leaves raked up.
Pet treatment needs to be done at about the same time as the insecticide application to prevent re-infestation from either the pet or premises. There are several safe and highly effective flea/tick control products currently available to help maintain an excellent long-term pet protection program. Consult with your veterinarian in order to determine the best product for your particular pet.
A good professional pest control operator will provide the best flea control value as they will have the expertise to provide the consultation and proper insecticide application which will ensure safe and effective results. After discussing the problem details with you, a good technician will quickly determine the best treatment strategy, know where to concentrate the treatment in a careful application, and be able to select the best products for your particular situation.
The insecticide mixture used will perhaps consist of a combination of several advanced and relatively-safe chemicals including fast-acting natural pyrethrins, a residual adulticide, and an insect growth regulator (IGR). The IGR is perhaps the most important component as it greatly extends the control because it mimics natural juvenile hormones and will therefore inhibit juvenile development of the fleas between the egg and pupal stages. Because the fleas contacting this material die before they ever reach adulthood, the IGR effectively breaks the reproductive cycle. Other types of IGRs actually sterilize fleas to provide the same extended control effect. Some examples of very effective IGRs are Precor (methoprene) and pyriproxyfen products. All of the most effective available insecticides are photosensitive to some extent (some much more than others) and therefore the dry residuals will not remain effective enough to control any re-infestations for longer than a few months, even indoors where protected from the weather elements and hence not exposed to much direct sunlight and rain.
The product formulation selected should provide for minimal possibility of any type of airborne contamination. However, as a general precaution, it is usually recommended that the treated area is well-ventilated and all people/pets vacate the premises, avoiding the treated areas until about two hours after the application or until the treated surfaces are completely dry. Any fish tanks, other pet aquariums, or bird cages should be covered prior to application. Because of the flea biology involving protected pupae emerging into adults perhaps days-to-weeks after the initial treatment, in order to expedite complete control, a moderate-to-severe flea infestation may require a follow-up treatment about 10 days later. Your technician should help you take care of the problem as quickly as possible and provide you with the best regular service program for proper maintenance.
We include necessary flea treatment as part of a general home pest control program for little or no additional expense to you as the customer. Also, in order to help maintain the control of fleas and other pests such as roaches, ants, and spiders, we provide an exterior home perimeter treatment as a part of your regular service. This consists of a partial yard treatment in a band around the home extending out about 10 feet. However, a high level of flea persistence may require a complete yard treatment along with your home service for adequate total control. We provide this additional service at a reduced rate if combined with home service on the same visit. The yard treatment also controls other pests such as fire ants.
Complete pest protection is very important to ensure the safety and comfort of your family and pets.
For free consultation to help you with any necessary planning and preparation needed for a successful flea control program, call the professionals at Spears Environmental Pest Control at 682-5354.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) is native to Central Asia, and was brought to North America by ships from Europe and other points of origin. The house mouse is a very adaptable animal, which thrives under a variety of conditions. They are found in and around homes, and commercial structures, as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. The house mouse is a nibbler and will sample many foods, but prefers to eat cereals and grains. They consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets, livestock or other animals. In addition to damaging structures and property they can also transmit pathogens that cause disease, like salmonellosis (a form of food poisoning).
Mice are very small rodents, the adult house mouse is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long including the 3 to 4 inch tail. They weight only about 1/2 ounce, and are usually brownish to gray in color. They can fit in a crack of only about a quarter inch. They have large ears and small black eyes. Mice are mostly active at night, but occasionally will be seen during the day. Mouse nests are made from shredded paper or other fibrous material. The house mouse has a distinct musky odor that identifies their presence. Droppings, gnawing marks, and tracks will indicate areas that mice are active. Sanitation will not completely control mice, however poor sanitation will help them thrive in larger numbers. Exclusion is the most successful and permanent form of house mouse control.
Rats are some of the most problematic rodents in the US. They consume and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Some examples of diseases that can be spread by both rats and mice are salmonellosis (acute food poisoning), Rickettsia Pox, Hantavirus (via droppings), tapeworm, infectious jaundice, and tularemia. It has been reported that rats bite more than fifteen thousand people per year including the both the very young and old. They scamper through your attic and walls, keeping you awake at night, and they often chew their way through drywall and enter the home to contaminate food and leave droppings. They like to chew and gnaw everything and create a fire hazard by chewing on electrical wires.
Norway Rats (Rattus Norvegicus)
The Norway Ratsaka brown rat or the sewer rats, they are stocky burrowing rodents that are larger than roof rats. The Norway rat is large and robust, with a blunt muzzle, small ears, and is mostly gray in color. They burrow along building foundations, under rubbish and woodpiles and in moist areas around gardens and fields. When they invade a structure, they generally stay at ground level or the basement. Their nests are usually lined with cloth, shredded paper, or fibrous materials. Norway rats eat a wide variety of foods but prefer to eat cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts and some fruits. When scavenging for food and water, the Norway rat usually does not travel further than 100-150 feet in diameter, seldom do they travel further than 300 feet from their burrow or nest. Norway rats and roof rats do not get along. The Norway rat is larger than a roof rat, and the more dominant of the two species, it will kill a roof rat in a fight. The Norway rat has an average of four to six litters per year and may successfully wean 20 or more offspring per year. Norway rats are found throughout the contiguous United States.
Roof Rats (Rattus rattus)
Roof ratsare slightly smaller than the Norway Rats and are sometimes called the black rats. Unlike Norway rats, their tails are longer than their heads and bodies combined. Roof rats are very agile climbers and usually live and nest above ground in shrubs, trees and dense vegetation. Roof rats are sleek, have a pointed muzzle, long ears, and are grey to white in color. When they invade structures, they are most often found in the attics, walls, false ceilings and cabinets. The Roof rat also eats a wide variety of foods, but mostly prefers to eat fruits, nuts, grain products, pet food, berries, insects, slugs and snails. Roof rats also enjoy eating fresh fruit still on the trees. When scavenging for food and water, the roof rat routinely travels to up 300 feet. Roof rats have an excellent sense of balance and use their long tails for balance while traveling along utility lines. They move much faster than the Norway rat and are very agile climbers, which helps them quickly escape predators. The roof rat has about three to five litters each year, having five to eight offspring per litter. The roof rat has a more limited geographical range; they prefer ocean-influenced, warmer climates. Both Norway and Roof rats gain entry to structures by gnawing, climbing, jumping, or swimming through sewers and entering through the toilet or broken drains. The Norway rat is a much better swimmer while the Roof rat is more agile and a better climber. Rats, especially young rats (young rats are often confused with the house mouse), can squeeze through a gap of only 1/2 inch.
There are about 2000 known species of termites throughout the world. In the U.S., Subterranean Termites, including Eastern, Western, Desert and Formosans, which build underground nests, are a concern in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites are extremely destructive, because they tunnel their way to wooden structures (like your home), into which they burrow to obtain food. Termites all share a virtually insatiable appetite for wood and other cellulose-containing materials. Given enough time, they will feed on the wood until nothing is left but a shell.
A Caste of Hundreds of Thousands
Termites are highly social insects that live in large colonies where populations can reach more than one million. A colony consists of several structurally differentiated forms living together as castes (including reproductives, soldiers, and workers) with different functions in community life.
In the spring, winged reproductives leave the parental nest in swarms to create a new colony. The swarming lasts less than an hour, so it's very likely you'll never even see it. The winged reproductives themselves look quite a bit like flying ants, for which they are often mistaken.
|Those "Ants" Might be Termites|
Both ants and termites have two pairs of wings, but ants' wings are different sizes while the termites' wings are all the same size. Also, ants have narrowed waists and elbowed antennae while termites have thick waists and short, straight antennae that resemble strings of beads. Don't be fooled by color or size. Ants can vary in size, and winged termites can be brown or black like ants.
Look for Signs
You're more likely to discover you have a termite problem by discovering the evidence they leave behind rather than the actual termites themselves. If you encounter any of these telltale signs, there's a good chance termites are busy snacking on your home:
Piles of small, delicate wings shed by reproductives
Small piles of sawdust
Mud tubes built by termites for aboveground travel
Damaged or hollow sounding wood
Pinholes in drywall or wallpaper
Of course, it's quite possible to have a hidden termite problem even if you never notice any of these signs. The best way to be sure is to contact a licensed pest control professional to conduct a complete inspection of your home….
Eastern Subterranean Termites
The Eastern Subterranean termite is the most common and most widely distributed termite in North America. It is a problem for home owners from southern Ontario in Canada, south throughout the Eastern United States and as far west as Montana.
This native American pest feeds on such cellulose materials as structural wood, wood fixtures, paper, books, and cotton. Occasionally, it will even attack the roots of shrubs and trees.
A mature colony of Eastern Subterranean termites can range from a low of 20,000 to a high of 5 million workers, with an average of 300,000. The colony's queen will add 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year to the total.
While Eastern Sub termite colonies are not the largest termite colonies you can find, there will often be more than one of them working in a single building. Signs of Easterns include dirt-colored tubes built to serve as protected paths from the earth to the wood the termites are feeding on, and the translucent wings shed by the kings and queens during swarming. Swarming usually occurs in the spring, but other, smaller swarms can occur throughout the summer and fall.
Some quick facts about Eastern Subs
An average Eastern Sub termite colony can consume 5 grams of wood per day, the equivalent of 2 1/3 linear feet of a 2'x4' pine board annually.
Colony growth is slow, and it may take years before swarmers are produced.
Eastern Sub termites can enter buildings through cracks less than 1/16" wide.
The termite colony is made up of different types (castes) of termites - each with separate work responsibilities.
Although Eastern Sub termite colonies are largely located in the ground below the frost line, secondary colonies can exist above ground, and examples of true above ground colonies existing without any ground contact have been seen. However, such above ground colonies have access to moisture and often the source is a roof or plumbing leak.
Eastern Sub termites will often build mud tubes for travel between their colonies and their food sources.
The king and queen in a colony can live for 10 to 30 years, while workers live for about two years.
Formosan Subterranean Termites
Formosan termites are one of several termite species that threaten homes and other structures in Hawaii and the southern half of the continental United States.
Originally from mainland China, Formosans have been established in the continental U.S. for only about 50 years. Unfortunately, they are more vigorous and aggressive and successful than native termites. In fact, the Formosan termite has been called the "Super" termite because of its large colonies and its ability to consume vast amounts of wood in a relatively short time.
A mature colony of Formosan termites can number in the millions and consume as much as 13 ounces of wood per day. As a result, Formosans can severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Formosan termites are most visible during their annual mating flight. However, they actually cause more damage after the swarm is over. For this reason, it's extremely important to start a control program as soon as you find out that you have Formosan termites on your property.
Some quick facts about Formosan termites
Formosan colonies are big. While native subterranean termite colonies might support an average of 300,000 workers, for example, Formosan colonies can average millions of workers - all of them foraging for food (wood).
A typical colony of Formosan termites could forage an area more than one acre in diameter.
As Formosans infest a structure, they use soil and wood cemented together with saliva and feces to build hard nests called cartons within walls. Large cartons can actually cause walls to bulge. These nests house thousands of termites as well as hold moisture. Once established, Formosans can live indefinitely without soil contact.
Formosan termites can also infest and destroy otherwise healthy trees.
Swarmers are larger than native species, and they swarm in the evening and later in the year (May-June).
Soldiers comprise about 10% of the colony.
Formosans will even attack and destroy non-wood materials. They have been known to chew through plaster, plastics, asphalt, and even thin sheets of soft metals like lead and copper.
Queens can produce 1,000 eggs a day.
Whatever the species, Termidor® termiticide/insecticide is your answer
Fortunately, there is a solution to even big termite problems like those posed by Formosans: It's Termidor, the world's most amazing termiticide.
Through seven years of testing, Termidor has repeatedly proven itself to be 100% effective against subterranean termites, including Formosans, in even the most challenging situations. It will completely eliminate your termites within 3 months of application. No exceptions. No excuses.
Termidor is a non-repellent
If a termiticide is non-repellent, that means the termites can't see it, smell it, or feel it. In fact, they don't know it's there at all. As a result, they'll continue to forage in treated areas. That might alarm you, but it's a good thing. Termites that are active in areas that have been treated with Termidor are helping to spread Termidor to more termites; they are helping the termiticide do its job. Rest assured that in a short time all the termites - those you see and those you don't - will be controlled.
Remember, Termidor kills in two ways
First, Termidor kills termites when they eat it (since they don't know it's there, they readily ingest it along with the wood fiber and other material they typically eat). Second, Termidor kills termites that simply come into contact with it. So, even if your termites are not feeding, Termidor will kill them.
Termites that come into contact with Termidor will also carry it on their bodies. As a result, every other termite they contact, feed, or groom will also be exposed to Termidor. All these termites will in turn transfer the termiticide to still more termites. This will go on for several days, allowing Termidor to be spread throughout the entire colony.
This unique mode of action is known as the "Transfer Effect™". At the same time, the active ingredient in Termidor, fipronil, is slow acting. That's a very good thing for you, and a very bad thing for the Formosan colony. Why? Because Termidor remains active long enough for one termite to transfer the termiticide to a large number of other termites in the colony before dying itself. And although the Termidor effect on individual termites is intentionally slow, the overall colony impact is fast: It can be 2-6 times faster than bait systems.
What to expect after application
Certainly, every home is different, so the specifics of your Termidor treatment and results will depend on your home's age, configuration, construction, and level of infestation. Your Termidor Certified Professional will explain the best procedure for your situation. The entire application program is typically complete in a day or less; however, you may see some evidence of termite activity for several days afterward. That's okay. Rest assured that Termidor is working, and its unique ingestion, contact, and "Transfer Effect" will eliminate termites from your home. Remember, responsible termite control demands periodic inspections by a licensed pest management professional.
If you believe your home may be in danger form Formosan Subterranean Termites, contact a Termidor pest control professional now.
Termite Prevention Tips
When it comes to gaining access to your home, termites are amazingly proficient. The last thing you want to do is make their job easier. Follow these 3 steps to effective Termite Defense and make sure that your home doesn't become their home or contact a Termidor Certified Professional immediately.
Step 1: Get professional help
Small holes in wood, crumbling drywall, sagging doors or floors, insect wings, and small mud tubes are some of the more obvious potential signs of termites. But even if you don't notice any of these signs, that doesn't necessarily mean termites, or the conditions that invite them, aren't there.
Regular inspections by a licensed pest professional are the only way to ensure your home truly is, and remains, free from termites and the damage that they cause. Qualified pest professionals have the training in termite biology and behavior to identify, prevent, and treat termite problems. A pest professional will perform a thorough inspection of your home to determine if, where, and how termites are getting in. They can also explain how to correct any conditions in your home that invite termites.
Don't affix wooden trellises to exterior walls.
Keep mulch, wood debris, scrap lumber, sawdust, and firewood away from your home. If you do keep firewood outside your house during the winter, keep it raised off the ground.
Trim all shrubs, bushes and other dense greenery away from the foundation of your home. Move mulch away from the foundation as well.
Don't bury wood debris near your home.
Remove infested trees and stumps.
Repair leaking faucets and water lines, both indoors and outdoors.
Fix leaky roofs and gutters.
Don't allow leaves to accumulate in gutters and drains.
Grade soil so that water (including air conditioning condensate) runs away from foundations.
Ventilate crawl spaces and attics to reduce humidity.
Cover at least 90% of the soil in crawl spaces with plastic sheeting.
Ideally, wood siding, stucco, and foam board should be at least six inches away from the ground.
Seal all cracks and holes in your home's foundation, which may provide a handy access point for termites.
Step 2: Employ the best defense: Termidor™
If the inspection reveals termites, your pest professional can get rid of them and keep them from returning. If your home is currently free of termites, congratulations! Now, it's time for your pest professional to take preventative action to ensure it stays that way. For the fastest, most effective way to address either situation, your pest professional will recommend Termidor®, America's #1 Termite Defense Product.
Step 3: Schedule regular professional check-ups
A clean bill of health from a doctor today doesn't mean it's not important for you to get regular check-ups in the future. Your home after a Termidor treatment is no different. Regular check-ups by your pest professional will make sure Termidor continues to do its job, and that your home remains termite-free for as long as you live there.