Bugs are everywhere, both outdoors and in. When inside, they quickly become pests. They can spread disease, contaminate food and even destroy entire homes. Knowing what bugs are a potential problem and being able to identify them is the first step toward properly evicting the pests from your home.
Some ant species are carnivorous, some are sweet-loving and others prefer plants. These ubiquitous insects feature a head, abdomen and thorax with two antennae and six legs, though the different species range widely in size and color. In the home, you can find ants almost anywhere there's an available food source. For example, pharaoh ants are perfectly at home nesting in a drawer, while pavement ants will head straight for the cake crumbs dropped on the floor. Ants in the home are a health threat when they carry with them soil-borne bacteria and subsequently infect human food.
Bedbugs are small, flat, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including pets and humans. Bedbugs get their name because they prefer to hide near the sleeping area of the chosen host. These insects reach a size of approximately 3/16th of an inch and do not have wings. There are some species of bedbugs that feed on wild animals such as birds or bats.
Cockroaches are one of the oldest groups of insects in the world. These bugs eat anything from food to glue, pieces of hair, leather and even flakes of dry skin. They live anywhere in the home that provides them with warmth and a food source: the kitchen, living room, bedroom, even the bathroom. Cockroaches are a serious health threat as they carry many harmful bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella.
Like bed bugs, fleas feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals such as cats, dogs, rats and even humans. Fleas can spread disease and parasites such as tapeworms between pets and humans, thus making them a serious health threat. Flea bites can also cause mild to serious allergic reactions in both humans and pets. Flea infestations are particularly dangerous for young puppies and kittens; multiple bites from the blood-sucking insects can cause life-threatening anemia. Fleas have a hard, dark-red/brown color and six legs. They are extremely small, ranging in size from 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch in size.
From the fruit fly to the common house fly, flies are a major nuisance for homeowners. Certain species, particularly the house fly, easily transmit diseases to people. A single fly can carry more than 1 million bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli and shigella. Flies come into contact with bacteria by breeding in garbage and animal feces, then they transmit the bacteria while feeding on human food. Flies generally enter the home through an open window, door or even on a piece of food already infested with fly eggs.
Silverfish are wingless insects that are either silver or brown in color. Fine scales cover their soft bodies, which are flat, ovular and elongated with two antennae and three projections from the tail. Silverfish feed on carbohydrates and protein, but may also eat glue if in need of food. Silverfish generally live in lower levels of the home such as the basement but may also reside in the attic.
Termites are extremely damaging insects that feed on wood and wood-based products in homes. They are small and can range in color from white to tan or black. During the winged stage, termites may be confused with the winged stage of ants. However, termites' wings have many small veins, and the waist of the termite is broader in comparison to the ant’s. Termites and their feasting most often remain unseen until they've caused serious structural damage to the home.
Weevils are pear-shaped beetles that pose no health threat, but are unwelcome nonetheless when they make themselves at home to seek shelter from outside weather conditions. The different species vary in color from brown, black or tan. They have six legs, two antenna and vary in size from 3/16th to 1/4th of an inch. Weevils are occasionally mistaken for ticks, however ticks have eight legs. Weevils prefer areas with high levels of moisture, such as a bathroom or a basement. They are most common during June through August.
- North Carolina State University, General Entomology; Ants; John R. Meyer; Jan. 31, 2006
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; Bed Bugs; Michael F. Potter; August 2008
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet; Fleas; William F. Lyon
- University of Nebraska--Lincoln; Flies in the Home; Barb Ogg, et al.
- Texas A&M University, AgriLife Extension; Silverfish
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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