More than 12,000 species of ants inhabit our world. A few of the toughest species infest our homes and buildings in Southern California.
Chief among these very persistent invaders: Argentine Ants & Red Imported Fire Ants
Argentine Ants – A very persistent pest in our neighborhoods, these are small (1/16 inch) dark brown ants you find in trails.
Colonies contain several queens. Workers may number in the thousands. Nests occur in such places as garden soil, along
walkways and sidewalks, under stepping stones, near moisture sources and even in wall voids.They may invade in largenumbers
when weather is very dry or very wet. Preferred foods are sweets and sometimes proteins. Honeydew, a secretion
produced by aphids, is a favorite food.
Imported Fire Ants – Do Not attempt to handle live Red Imported Fire Ants. They are a dangerous threat to people and
pets. When their colonies are disturbed, stinging red ants will attack in large numbers.Red-brown and 1/16 to 1/4 inch in length.
Colonies are found in mounds of soft, crumbly soil. They commonly infest lawns, yards and parks. They may forage inside for food
Bed bugs – Bed bug habits and biology add up to a very tough pest problem ... Both adults and immature nymphs come out at
night for a blood meal. Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless, about 1/5" long, and rusty red or mahogany. Female bed bugs lay
200-500 tiny white eggs in batches of 10-50 on rough surfaces such as wood or paper. Gluelike materials cover the eggs, which
hatch in about 10 days. Bed bugs hide during the day in seams of mattresses and box springs, cracks of bed frames, under
loose wallpaper, behind picture frames and inside furniture and upholstery. People are often not aware they have been bitten
until afterwards. However, saliva injected during the feeding can later produce large swellings that itch and may become infested.
Bed bugs leave fecal spots on sheets and at their hiding places.
Bees & Wasps
Honey Bees – The highly social European Honey Bee is very important to modern agriculture because it pollinates flowers
which produce crops. The honey bee colony consists of three distinct castes: the queen, the drone(the male) and the workers,
which are non-reproductive females. The queen often lays in excess of 1,500 eggs per day. Drones fertilize the queen's eggs.
The workers build and care for the comb, care for the larvae, guard the entrance and leave the hive to gather pollen and nectar.
A successful colony may contain 20,000 to 80,000 individuals.
Africanized Honey Bees – The Africanized Honey Bee spread from central and South America and arrived in California
about 1994. These bees are very aggressive and pose a serious danger.
Yellow Jackets – Yellow Jackets may nest on the ground, but also in walls, ceilings and other voids in houses and other
Paper Wasps – Paper Wasps hang their paper nests under eaves, in attics or other protected spaces.
Mud Daubers – Mud Daubers build a hard mud nest on ceilings and walls.
Carpet Beetles – Adult carpet beetles may appear a solid brown or black with irregular colorization of white, brown,
and dark yellow. Larvae, most commonly covered with tufts of hair, feed in dark areas on such products as wool, silk, leather,
Birds – Bird droppings are severely corrosive: deface buildings, disfigure signs, foul equipment, damage belongings,
contaminate goods, kill vegetation and jeopardize reputation.
Birds nest on or in buildings, increase fire hazards and frequently result in clogged drains. Birds have their own pests that
will attack people: mites, lice and ticks. Mites, for example, will migrate from deserted nests and cause serious irritation
to humans. Particles from an accumulation of droppings and feathers become airborne through heating and air conditioning
ducts causing several unhealthy conditions.
Bird populations can foster severe health problems: allergies, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, histoplasmosis, cyppococcosis,
psittacosis, encephalitis, candidisis, ornithosis and toxoplasmosis.
Centipedes – Centipedes have one pair of legs for each body segment. Brown and over 1" long, centipedes usually are
found in damp and dark places.
Clothes Moths – Clothes moths are small (1/4" long) and are found in dark closets. They are weak flyers and are not
attracted to light. Moth larvae are shiny, white, and with a dark head capsule. The larvae do the most damage by feeding
on wool in clothing, carpets, furs, and furniture.
German Cockroaches – The most common indoor cockroach. They are 1/2 inch long with 2 dark stripes on the pronotum.
Of the common cockroaches, they reproduce the fastest. A female may produce a new egg case every few weeks and each
egg case contains about 30 young. They prefer warm, humid areas near food and water.
Oriental Cockroaches – Also called the "waterbug". They are about 1 and 1/4 inch long and mostly black. They prefer
dark and damp areas such as ground cover, meter boxes, garages, and trash areas outside. Indoors, they are found in crawl
spaces, cabinet false bottoms, lower cabinets, and floor drains.
Brownbanded Cockroaches – They are about 1/2 inch long, golden tan to darker brown, with light-colored bands on
the abdomen, wings and sides of the pronotum. They prefer indoor areas that are very warm.
American Cockroaches – They are 2 inches long, reddish-brown with long antennae. They prefer a warm humid
environment. Commonly found in food storage and handling areas, basements, steam tunnels, sewers, and storm drains.
Crickets – Adult crickets grow to about 1/2 to 1", have long antennae, and are shiny black or brown. The House cricket
is yellowish-brown. Crickets are nocturnal, hiding during the day and becoming more active at night. Indoors, crickets can
damage silk, woolens, linen, cotton, and other fabrics.
Fleas – Cat fleas are the most common type. Very small (up to 1/8"), adult fleas are wingless, reddish-brown to black,
and have piercing-sucking mouthparts they use for blood meals. 20 to 30 small, white, oval eggs fall from the host animal
onto carpet, furniture, etc. every day. Wormlike larvae feed on dried blood and excrement, then form cocoons and develop
into adults. Blood is the only food for adult fleas.
Flies – Fly eggs are laid in animal waste or moist organic material, with each of several batches containing 100-150 eggs.
Since flies can carry bacteria and virus that may cause various human diseases, sanitation is the most important step in
controlling these insects. It is important to remove and dispose of organic waste, to clean trash containers, and to keep
tight lids on those and other containers. House fly larvae are cream colored with a blunt posterior, and are tapered to a
point at the head. Adult house flies are less than 3/8" long and have 4 dark stripes on the thorax. Garbage flies are colored
metallic green or blue.
Mosquitos – Is your home a mosquito zone? These are preventative steps you can take to reduce
the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed:
1. Regularly eliminate standing or collected water in potted plants, bird baths, buckets, barrels, cans,
wading pools, yard litter, old tires, and any other water-holding receptacles.
2. Check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as in bushes or under the house.
3. Regularly clean out clogged rain gutters.
4. Keep swimming pools treated and circulating.
5. Keep pond edges clean.
Mice – The House Mouse is an important pest because it consumes and contaminates food, damages structures and
property, and transmits diseases through urine, droppings and contact. With large ears and small eyes, mice are light brown
to gray, weigh about 1/2 oz and, as adults are 5-7 inches long, including the 3-4 inch tail. Mice have keen senses of taste,
hearing, smell and touch, are excellent climbers and can squeeze through openings larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.
Mostly active at night, mice leave droppings, tracks and gnaw marks.
Among the most common Evidence of Infestation: Rat droppings at pet food dishes or by food storage • Noises coming from the attic. • Peak foraging
times are at dusk and prior to dawn. • Smudge marks caused by rats rubbing against rafters, pipes, beams, or walls. • Burrows adjacent to foundations
or among plants. • Nests in garage storage.
Roof Rats – Roof Rats, as the name implies, are very agile climbers that nest and live above the ground. Outside they
are found on roofs, in trees, shrubs and such dense coverage as ivy. Inside they are most commonly found in attics, walls
false ceilings and cabinets.
Norway (or brown) Rats – Norway(or brown) Rats are larger than Roof Rats. Norway Rats are found in burrows
outside and inside in sub-areas, basements and on the ground floor.
Silverfish – Silverfish are silver-gray in color. They are slender, wingless, 1/3 to 1/2" long, and have 3 appendages
on the end. They are found throughout the house near food sources such as paper, fabrics, starches, and sugar foods.
Spiders are arachnids, not insects. They have 8 legs and 2 body parts. Insects have 6 legs and 3 body parts.
Black Widow Spiders – The Black Widow Spider is the most common harmful spider in our neighborhoods.
Black Widow Spider bites are fairly common in California. The venom from the bite can cause reactions ranging
from mild to painful and severe. Medical help should be promptly sought.
The body of the adult female Black Widow is typically black with a red or orange mark in the shape of an hourglass
on the underside of the large round abdomen. The web is irregular and consists of a cobweb mesh. Egg sacks
are about 1/2" long and 5/8" in diameter, creamy yellow to light tan in color. Black Widows are usually found in dark,
dry, sheltered areas such as wood piles, trash piles, sheds, garages, crawl spaces and meter boxes.
Other Spiders – Because they feed on insects, spiders are mainly beneficial. While spiders do kill their prey with
venom, the jaws of most spiders cannot penetrate adult human skin. Most spider bites occur when the spider has
been disturbed. The bite may cause no reaction or varying amounts of itchiness, redness, swelling and pain. If the
bite causes an unusual or severe reaction, seek medical help. Regular vacuuming indoors and sweeping webs away
outdoors are important control measures.
Drywood Termites – Unlike their subterranean cousins, drywood termites do not have any contact with the soil
or any other moisture source. Swarmers (winged reproductives) are about 1/2 inch long, including the wings, which
are longer than the body. The head of the swarmer is orange brown. Drywood termites swarm once a year, usually in
September or October in warm and sunny weather. After swarming, a mated pair will drop their wings, enter wood
through cracks or crevices, create a chamber, mate and begin a new colony. Droppings of the drywood termites
are small hard pellets. These pellets and cast wings are evidence of an infestation.
Subterranean Termites – Subterranean termites build nests in the ground. They forage for food(wood) farther
and farther from their nests as their colony grows. Foragers make underground tunnels or above ground "shelter"
tubes of mud, feces and debris. These tunnels are used to maintain required moisture, search for new food and to
connect the nest to their food. They are able to enter a structure through an opening as small as 1/32 inch.
Any building, whether on a slab or raised foundation, can be infested by these termites. Swarmers are about 3/8 inch
long including the wings, black in color, with wings about twice as long as the body. Swarming occurs following fall and