Discover More About the Pest Invading Your Property
Browse through our full list of some of the common pests in the greater St. Louis area. You can also view more detailed information on Wikipedia’s list of common household pests through this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_household_pests
Bugs and Insects
Ants are considered a pest at home because they feed on and contaminate human foods, infest structures, and build unsightly mounds in lawns. In some cases, they can inflict painful bites or stings.
They do not attack or eat fabrics, leather, or wood in houses. However, some species can establish nests in decaying wood structures.
Ants can be distinguished from other insects by their narrow waist, called a pedicel, with either one or two nodes (joints) between the thorax and abdomen. They have elbowed antennae as well.
Winged reproductive ants have four wings, with the first pair being much larger in size than the hind pair. Ants are frequently confused with termites. However, termites have a broad waist, straight antennae, and four wings of equal size.
The German cockroach is the most important and most common of all cockroach species. Aside from being a nuisance, this pest has been involved in outbreaks of illness and asthma. They are distributed worldwide.
German cockroaches are found throughout structures but prefer warm and humid places. They usually appear in kitchens, bathrooms, and other places where people eat food and drink. Any crack or crevice located near a food or water source is its prime harborage.
Moreover, German cockroaches feed on all kinds of human food as well as anything with nutritive value, including soap, glue, or toothpaste. They seldom live or travel outdoors and are commonly introduced to buildings via the transfer of the following:
Bees, Hornets, and Wasps
For the most part, bees, hornets, and wasps are a beneficial group of insects. They are major pollinators of flowering plants. They can be categorized as either solitary or social creatures.
Solitary species live independently of each other. Common solitary groups include carpenter bees, mud daubers, and velvet ants.
On the other hand, social species live together in colonies or nests. These species include bumble bees, honey bees, hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets.
Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of people and certain animals in order to grow and reproduce. They live close to areas where people typically sleep, rest, or sit for long periods.
Hungry bugs will move out of their hiding places in search of exposed skin. Typically, a person’s head and neck are bitten. Bed bugs, however, will also bite bare arms, hands, and legs.
When searching for a place to feed, these bugs can move very quickly. Once an appropriate site is found, they feed for 2-5 minutes until full, and then move quickly away from the person.
Remember, these insects are small (1/16″ to 1/4″) and very flat. So, they can move into very tight corners and cracks.
Fleas are small, reddish-brown, wingless, blood-sucking insects. They are one of the most frequently encountered and most troublesome pests that attack humans and pets.
Their bodies are flattened from side to side, allowing easy movement between the hairs of your pet. A flea’s legs are long and readily adapted for jumping. They also have mouthparts that are adapted for sucking blood.
An adult flea may attack various warm-blooded animals like dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and more. Female fleas require a blood meal in order to develop and lay eggs. They can lay up to 500 eggs over several months.
The eggs hatch in 1 to 12 days, and the larvae avoid light and feed on particles of dead matter in the area. Within 7 to 14 days, flea larvae will pupate. If a host is present, the cocoon will emerge in 5 days to 5 weeks. Then, the adult flea will start to look for blood.
Successful flea control requires two things. First is that the pet must be treated to prevent fleas from living on the host. Second, the premises must be treated to eradicate the fleas’ non-adult stages. This also helps prevent another infestation of the pet.
Proper communication between the homeowner and pest control professional and thorough preparation of the premises are important to flea control.
Additionally, don’t be alarmed if you continue to see fleas for up to two weeks after the treatment. These fleas are newly hatched from their protective pupae cases. Once exposed to the insecticide residual, they will also be eliminated.
Silverfish and Firebrats
Silverfish and firebrats are common pests in homes. Silverfish live and develop in damp, cool places. Large numbers of these may be found in new buildings where newly plastered walls are still damp.
Meanwhile, firebrats live and thrive in hot, dark places, like in insulation around hot water and steam pipes. Other habitable places for firebrats are the surrounding areas of furnaces and fireplaces.
Silverfish and firebrats follow pipes through walls in search of food. They can be found in bookcases, around closet shelves, behind baseboards, windows, or door frames.
Silverfish are shiny and silver to pearl-gray in color, while firebrats are mottled gray. Both of these insects are slender, wingless, and covered in scales. Adult forms of these insects are about 1/3 to 1/2 inches long.
Young insects resemble adults, except they are smaller. Both also have 2-inch long antennae attached to their heads and 3 tail-like appendages at their hind ends. Each appendage is almost as long as their bodies.
Silverfish and firebrats are active at night and hide during the day. When objects under which they hide are moved, they dart around, seeking a new hiding place.
Under normal conditions, they grow slowly and have few young. They can also live for several months without food.
There are about 1,000 spider species in the United States. They live everywhere, including in homes and buildings. All spiders have 8 legs and 2 body regions, and are predators that feed primarily on insects and other arthropods.
Some species bite humans and inject venom into their skin. Examples of these venomous spiders are the brown recluse and the black widow. However, most spiders are not harmful to humans.
When feeding, they inject digestive fluid into their prey before sucking up the digested food. Spiders can also survive for long periods of time without feeding. They are of interest as some enter homes, some are poisonous, and some are raised as pets.
Several spider species can be an annoying pest in homes. Their numerous webs are a nuisance and, when abandoned, collect dust, resulting in cobwebs. However, spiders can also be beneficial since they feed on insect pests.
The brown recluse spider, one of the venomous species, is recognized by the distinctive dark violin-shaped mark located on its head and thorax. It is light tan to deep reddish-brown in color and medium in size, about ¼ to ½ inches long.
This spider is usually found in sheds, garages, and storage areas. It may hide in the arms or legs of stored garments or in beds that have been unoccupied for some time.
People bitten by the brown recluse usually do not feel the pain for two to three hours. A blister will arise, followed by inflammation. Eventually, the tissue will die, leaving a sunken sore that may take six to eight weeks to heal.
Meanwhile, the black widow, another popular venomous species, is glossy black with a red hourglass mark on the underside of its abdomen. It can be found outdoors, in protected areas like under rocks and boards, and within and around old buildings.
This spider is about 1 ½ inches long with its legs extended. Its bite feels like a pin prick. The initial pain disappears fast, leaving local swelling and two tiny red marks. Muscular cramps in the shoulders, back, and thighs usually start within 15 minutes to 3 hours.
In severe cases, the pain spreads to the abdomen. Death seldom occurs if a physician is consulted and treatment is administered promptly.
Rodents and Small Animals
Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are pests that enter homes and ware houses for food and shelter. These rodents eat any kind of food that people eat. They also contaminate much more food than they eat with urine, droppings, and hair.
Moreover, rats and mice can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague, murine typhus, and bacterial food poisoning. They often bite people and gnaw at structures, causing damages and fires.
The most common rodent pests are commensal rodents. They are rats and mice that have adapted to living with humans and share their food and shelter. These include the Norway rat, roof rat, and house mouse.
Most urban squirrels owe their survival to humans. We unknowingly supply their food and shelter. From a squirrel’s perspective, a house is just another funny-looking tree.
Why should a squirrel spend days cutting and hauling twigs up a tree to build a nest when there is a perfectly good attic to sleep in? It’s warm, out of the weather, and offers protection from predators.
Just add leaves or fluff, and it becomes a squirrel’s home. Proper sanitation and maintenance will prevent most squirrel-related problems.
The average mole is about the size of a chipmunk, but the shrew mole is approximately the size of a small mouse. Moles weigh from ¼ to 6 ounces and have very small eyes and ears, which have limited sensitivity and are hidden in their fur.
Despite being unable to see well, they are allegedly capable of detecting the presence or lack of light. Moreover, it is also said that most moles, except the star-nosed mole with excellent hearing, may only detect vibrations with their undeveloped ears.
As a result of these two sensory blindness, the average mole has highly-developed senses of smell and touch. Their forefeet are larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies.
Moles’ palms are wide with webbed and clawed digits. Contrary to that, their clawed hind feet are small and narrow.
Moles live most of their lives in underground runways. Their presence is determined by the low ridges pushing up as they move beneath the soil in search of food. In heavily infested areas, these runways form a vast interconnecting network.
Moles dig runways to look for food and to provide protection and living spaces for traveling, resting, and nesting. Some runways are major traveling lanes used by several moles.
These often appear under fence lines, under roads, along sidewalks that lead to watering areas, or in other generally protected places. Main runways usually are 6 inches beneath the ground, but may be as shallow as 2 inches or as deep as 20 inches.
Moles are active all year and do not hibernate or estivate. Their activity seems to lessen during extremely wet or dry periods. That being said, pest control programs will be most successful if carried out during periods of high mole activity.