Pest Identifier




Carpenter ants may establish colonies in wood dwellings and cause structural damage, or they can be a pest by foraging in the house. They are capable of inflicting painful bites when handled. Normally carpenter ants are more noticeable when homes are located near large trees or near forests.

Winged sexual forms swarm in late spring to early summer and establish new colonies. The entire life cycle usually requires about 65 days from egg to adult, but this varies with weather conditions.



Carpenter bees are large, black and yellow bees frequently seen in spring hovering around the eaves of a house or the underside of a deck or porch rail. They are most often mistaken for bumble bees, but differ in that they have a black shiny tail section. The carpenter bee is so-called because of its habit of excavating tunnels in wood with its strong jaws. The round half-inch diameter entrance holes are usually found on the underside of a board. A tell-tale trace of coarse sawdust is often found on the surface beneath the hole.

Wooden decks, overhangs and other exposed wood on houses are prime targets. Painted and treated woods are less preferred, but they are by no means immune to attack. Unpainted or stained cedar, cypress and redwood shingles and siding are also attacked despite their pest-resistant reputations. Carpenter bees, like their distant relatives, the carpenter ants, differ from termites in that they do not consume the wood as food. They simply excavate tunnels for nesting sites.

Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetle is a term used to describe several species of small (1/8-3/4 inches long), wood-boring insects which reduce wood to a fine, 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 small, round "shot-holes" in the wood surface. These are exit holes where adult beetles have chewed out of the wood after completing their development. Newly-emerged adults mate and lay eggs on or below the surface of bare (unfinished) wood. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae which bore into the wood, emerging as adults 1-5 years later, usually during April - July. Homeowners are more likely to see damage than the beetles themselves, because the adults are short-lived and are active mainly at night.

The key to avoiding serious problems from powderpost beetles is early detection. As noted earlier, homeowners are much more likely to see damage than the beetles themselves. Since tunneling and development of the larvae takes place entirely below the wood surface, the only signs of infestation are the emergence holes made by the adults and the powder-like frass sifting from the holes.


The termite workers pictured are the most common form of the termite. Subterranean termites are present over the entire U.S. but especially in the Southern States.

The termite colony contains primary queens (long wings), secondary queens (short- winged and wingless), large headed soldier termites, and worker termites.

Winged reproductives migrate (swarm) to initiate new colonies. The flight is short and weak with the wings often breaking off in flight. The outstanding difference between swarming termites and flying ants is the wide body of the termite as opposed to the constricted or pinched body of the ant.

Wood Borer

There are several indicators that wood-boring beetles are present. Immature beetles tunneling in wood cause an audible rasping or ticking sound most often heard during quiet times at night. Another indication may be a blistering appearance on the wood caused by larvae tunneling just below the wood surface. While feeding, beetles often push powdery frass from holes they have constructed in the infested wood. This frass is piled below the holes or in cracks in structures. The consistency of the frass ranges from very fine to coarse, depending on the species. Exit or emergence holes in the wood, created by the adult beetle, also may be seen. Occasionally, wood staining or the obvious presence of adult beetles will be noted. As adult beetles emerge in confined structures, they often are attracted to lights or windows.

Wood boring beetles range in size from a few millimeters to more than 2 inches. Many of them are dark colored, but some are metallic blues and greens striped with yellow or red. If only adults are found, locate any emergence holes or damaged wood which identifies the infested area. Frequently, wood-boring beetles enter homes accidentally because they are attracted by lights. Accidental entry cases are non-damaging to property.



Also known as odorous house ants or acrobat ants, they are small, about 1/8th inch long, and dark brown in color. These ants have a disagreeable odor similar to the smell of rotten coconuts that is given off when the worker ants (wingless ants) are crushed.

Sugar ants commonly nest outdoors in the soil under stones, logs, mulch, debris and other items. They will also nest indoors in wall and floor voids, particularly in moist or warm areas. If only a few workers are observed in the house it is an indication that they are nesting outdoors and entering the house in search of food. If winged swarmers are found indoors, or if workers are consistently seen in great abundance, it likely indicates they are nesting within the house.





House Centipede






Centipedes and millipedes are not insects because they have more than six legs, but they are closely related invertebrates. When outdoors, these invertebrates are innocuous organisms, but they may be considered pests when they share living space with us. Both of these groups of invertebrates have long, segmented bodies with either one pair (centipedes - 100) or two pairs (millipedes - 1000) of legs on each segment. Their food preferences vary greatly. 

Centipedes have pair of poison claws behind the head and use the poison to paralyze their prey, usually small insects. However, the jaws of centipedes are weak and can rarely penetrate human skin. The rare individuals who are bitten may experience localized swelling and pain no worse than a bee sting.

The house centipede is found throughout the United States. This centipede can be found outside under stones, boards, or sticks or beneath moist leaf litter and other organic matter. When disturbed, centipedes move swiftly toward darkened hiding places. When they are found in homes, they are often found in moist basements, damp closets and in bathrooms. Centipedes require moist habitats. If they are plentiful, there may be an underlying moisture problem that should be corrected.

Millipedes are similar to centipedes, but have two pairs of legs per body segment. Some people mistakenly refer to them as "wireworms." (Wireworms are the larval stage of a beetle that feeds on roots of plants.) Millipedes are usually brown to blackish in color. The elongated body is rounded, not flattened, and they have no poison claws or legs. They usually coil up when disturbed. 

Millipedes are usually restricted to moist places where they feed on organic matter. In the fall, they may become a nuisance because they migrate away from feeding areas and invade homes. Because they crawl along the ground, they are usually found in lower floors and basements. Once inside the home, they usually die due to desiccation, although in moist basements, they can survive longer. 

Millipedes live in organic matter (leaves, mulch, piles of wood or wood chips) and other material close to the house. Over mulching and/or over watering in the garden can result in millipede attack on vegetable plants. Removing the organic debris or mulch materials near your home will help reduce the potential for invading millipedes. 



These brownish, humpbacked crickets are found in dark, moist basements. The antennae of this wingless cricket are extremely long. People are frequently frightened by the unusual appearance of the camel cricket, but it is harmless.



Since these crickets are fond of warmth, they are often present in the vicinity of the fireplace, kitchen and basement. They conceal themselves in cracks and crevices, behind baseboards and may burrow into the mortar of walls.

Crickets are nocturnal and usually first make themselves evident at dusk when they begin to seek food in the home. They are omnivorous, feed readily on bread crumbs and are particularly attracted to liquids, especially beer and sweetened vinegar. When these liquids are placed in suitable containers, they may drown due to their fondness of liquids. Their constant chirping is what most people find annoying.


Adult earwigs are flattened insects, up to 1- 1/4 inches in length, and light red-brown to black.  The forceps-like appendages at the end of the abdomen are strongly curved in the male, while the female's appendages are smaller and less curved. The forceps are used primarily for defense and during courtship and cannot harm people. 

Earwigs are as offensive as roaches and produce a foul odor when crushed. They are especially serious in the winter since they like to enter warm houses.  They are active at night and during the day usually find shelter beneath stones, boards, sidewalks, or debris.


Fleas are a pesky almost invisible creature and only 1% of fleas are big enough to see with the naked human eye. If your house has fleas in it then not only do you have to kill adult fleas but all of the smaller ones as well. There are 4 distinct stages in the life of a flea. The egg, the larva, the pupa or cocoon and the adult. Flea eggs are barely visible to the naked eye. They are laid on the host animal and either fall off or are scratched off into carpeting and other upholstery, where they will hatch over a period of one to ten days. Eggs will not hatch in temperatures below 40F, but can exist indefinitely until the temperature rises, often a year later. Eggs die at temperatures above 95F.

When eggs hatch, fleas enter the larval stage which lasts approximately one to two weeks, depending on the environment. Larvae begin spinning whitish cocoons (properly called pupae) where the worm develops into an adult flea, metamorphosing from the cocoon in as little as one week or as many as six months. Three factors can accelerate emergence from the cocoon: warm temperatures from a sleeping host animal, humidity, and vibrations, whether caused by footsteps, vacuum cleaners or other sources. Upon entering the adult stage, a flea will immediately seek a host to feed from and will be able to reproduce. Thus, the flea life cycle begins anew. The female flea will lay 20 to 50 eggs per day and can continue doing this for over three months. Two out of three fleas are female, so the possibility for huge infestations, in a relatively short time, can be predicted during the course of one flea season (a season which usually begins in April in warmer climates and extends through September).

 House Mouse

House mice are small rodents with relatively large ears and small black eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and usually are light gray in color. An adult is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3- to 4-inch tail.

The house mouse is considered one of the most troublesome and economically important rodents in the United States. House mice thrive under a variety of conditions. They are found in and around homes and farms as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. House mice consume and contaminate food meant for humans, livestock, or other animals. They cause damage to structures and property, and they transmit diseases such as salmonellosis and swine dysentery.

Droppings, fresh gnaw marks and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, often are found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are active mostly at night, but can be seen occasionally during daylight hours.


The Norway rat (also known as the common, sewer or brown rat) is a destructive pest. These rodents eat and contaminate large amounts of feed, damage structures by their gnawing and burrowing, and spread diseases that affect livestock and humans.

Norway rats are robust rodents that usually weigh about 11 ounces. Adults are 13 to 18 inches long, including a 6- to 9-inch tail. Their fur is coarse, brownish and scattered with black hair on the upper surfaces. The belly fur is typically gray to yellowish-white, and they sport a naked, scaly tail.

Rats can be detected by their droppings or evidence of fresh gnawing and their tracks can be seen in mud and on dusty surfaces. Burrows and runways may be found next to buildings, along fences, and under low vegetation and debris.


This is one of the largest of the common roaches found in the U.S. It often obtains a length of 1 1/2 inches.

The American roach is a strong flier and both sexes have fully developed wings. Food storage and preparation areas, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and houses, are often infested.

The female roach can produce 6-14 egg capsules in one mating season. These capsules contain from 10 to 16 eggs each. Incubation for the eggs varies from 38 to 49 days, after which the young nymphs hatch.


Unlike the firebrat this bright silvery cousin prefers cooler, more moist areas. Its diet is similar to the firebrat's. Since it does not like dryness or heat, it is less likely to be found in the heated home in the winter.

At the optimum temperature of 72-80 degrees F., the females may lay up to 100 eggs in a lifetime. The life cycle may be completed in 3 to 4 months, but usually longer periods are required.


(Black Widow)

Adult black widow spiders have shiny, jet black, rounded, globular abdomens with two reddish or yellowish triangles on the underside which form a characteristic hourglass marking. Adult female northern widow spiders are shiny black or brown-black with two reddish triangles on the underside, resembling a split hourglass. These spiders are about 1/2-inch long, not including the legs (about 1-1/2 inches when legs are spread). Adult males are harmless, about half the female's size, with smaller bodies, longer legs and usually have yellow and red bands and spots over the back as do the immature stages. Newly hatched spiderlings are predominately white or yellowish-white, gradually acquiring more black and varying amounts of red and white with each molt. Juveniles of both sexes resemble the male and are harmless.

These spiders spin tangled webs of coarse silk in dark places, usually outdoors. Webs are usually built near the ground (occasionally within dwellings) normally in trash, rubble piles, under or around houses and outbuildings such as privies, sheds and garages.


(Brown Recluse)

Brown recluse spiders belong to a group of spiders commonly known as violin spiders or fiddlebacks. This is because of a characteristic fiddle-shaped pattern they have on their head region. The spider is golden brown with the fiddle being dark brown or black. This spider is not hairy and the fiddle pattern is often shiny. They are about 1/4 to 3/4 inch long.

This spider is most active at night when it comes out in search of food consisting of cockroaches and other small insects. During the day, time is spent in quiet, undisturbed places such as bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, basements and cellars. The spiders sometimes take shelter under furniture, appliances and carpets, behind baseboards and door facings, or in corners and crevices. Some have been found in stored clothing, old shoes, on the undersides of tables and chairs, and in folded bedding and undisturbed towels stored for long periods of time. Outdoors, the spider may be found in sheltered corners among debris, in wood piles, under loose bark and stones, in old barns, storage sheds and garages. These spiders are very adaptable and may be active in temperatures ranging from 45 to 110 deg F.



Spiders in this family typically have extremely long and skinny legs with small bodies.  Common species are usually tan or gray.  Cellar spiders are common in homes, but they typically stay in one place and don't bother people.  They are not known to bite.

Cellar spiders often make their stringy webs indoors, preferring shady corners in basements, attics, barns, and sheds.  They feed on small moths, flies, gnats, and mosquitoes.


(Domestic House)

American house spiders, domestic spiders, have an adult female body length of about 3/16 to 5/16 in (5-8 mm), including abdomen. The adult male is smaller.

House spiders have a yellowish brown carapace. Abdomen is dirty white with a few dark spots, or sometimes even a triangular spot, to almost black with several dark stripes in a V-shape, like army sergeant stripes. Male has orange legs, female has banded yellow legs.

Outside in protected places, around windows and under eaves with some light to attract prey; inside in garages, sheds, barns, warehouses, in corners and closets, under furniture.



Garden spiders tend to weave classical, sheet-like orb webs that consist of rays and spirals of silk in open, sunny places in gardens, around houses and in tall grass. They have poor eyesight and have trouble walking on anything but webs and rarely occur indoors but frequently live on or near the outer walls of buildings.



Jumping Spiders have a distinctive body shape and short, strong front legs; many are brightly colored or iridescent. Two very large eyes on the front of the head give them the best vision of all spiders. They slowly stalk their prey and make a sudden pounce from a short distance. Salticids occasionally wander indoors and may overwinter there.


(Wolf or Ground)

Wolf spiders range from about 1/2 inch to 2 inches in length, hairy, and are typically brown to gray in color with various markings or lines. Wolf spider mothers carry their large egg sacs around with them. When the young spiderlings hatch they climb onto their mother's back and ride around until partially grown. Wolf spiders are not poisonous, though as with all spiders, bites may cause reactions in certain individuals.

They are a common household pest in the fall when they are looking for a warm place to overwinter. They are commonly found around doors, windows, house plants, basements, garages, and in almost all terrestrial habitats. They do not spin a web but roam at night to hunt for food. Wolf spiders are often confused with the brown recluse, but they lack the unmistakable violin-shaped marking behind the head. The wolf spider is shy and seeks to run away when disturbed.

Bed Bug

Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed solely on the blood of people & animals. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long and reddish brown, with oval, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks or cockroaches. Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, they prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping, yet the person seldom knows they are being bitten. Symptoms thereafter vary with the individual. Many people develop an itchy red welt or localized swelling, which sometimes appears a day or so after the bite.

A common concern with bed bugs is whether they transmit diseases. Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in their bodies, transmission to humans is highly unlikely. For this reason, they are not considered a serious disease threat. Their medical significance is mainly limited to the itching and inflammation from their bites.