Carpenter ants are large (¼–1 in) ants indigenous to many parts of the world. They prefer dead, damp wood in which to build nests. Sometimes carpenter ants will hollow out sections of trees. The most likely species to be infesting a house in the United States is the Black carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus. However, there are over a thousand other species in the genus Camponotus.
Carpenter ants can damage wood used in the construction of buildings. They can leave a sawdust like material behind that provides clues to nesting location.
In at least nine Southeast Asian species of the Cylindricus complex, such as Camponotus saundersi, workers feature greatly enlarged mandibular glands. They can release their contents suicidally by rupturing the intersegmental membrane of the gaster, resulting in a spray of toxic substance from the head, which gave these species the common name "exploding ants".
Its defensive behaviors include self-destruction by autothysis. Two oversized, poison-filled mandibular glands run the entire length of the ant's body. When combat takes a turn for the worse, the ant violently contracts its abdominal muscles to rupture its body and spray poison or glue in all directions. The ant has an enormously enlarged mandibular (abdomen) gland, many times the size of a normal ant, which produces the glue. The glue bursts out and entangles and immobilizes all nearby victims. The termite, Globitermes sulphureus has a similar defensive mechanism. [top]
The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile, formerly Iridomyrmex humilis) is a dark ant native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is an invasive species that has been established in many mediterranean climate areas, inadvertently introduced by humans to many places, including South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Easter Island, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, and the United States.
They have been extraordinarily successful, in part, because different nests of the introduced Argentine ants seldom attack or compete with each other, unlike most other species of ant. In their introduced range, their genetic makeup is so uniform that individuals from one nest can mingle in a neighboring nest without being attacked. Thus, in most of their introduced range they form "supercolonies". "Some ants have an extraordinary social organization, called unicoloniality, whereby individuals mix freely among physically separated nests. This type of social organization is not only a key attribute responsible for the ecological domination of these ants, but also an evolutionary paradox and a potential problem for kin selection theory because relatedness between nest mates is effectively zero." In contrast, native populations are more genetically diverse, genetically differentiated (among colonies and across space), and form colonies that are much smaller than the supercolonies that dominate the introduced range. Argentine ants in their native South America also co-exist with many other species of ants, and do not attain the high population densities that characterize introduced populations. [top]
Formica is a genus of ants. It is the type genus of the family Formicidae and the subfamily Formicinae, and in turn Formica's own type species is the European red wood ant Formica rufa. Common names for this group are wood ant, mound ant, and field ant. Many of the better known forest species have common names that include the words "wood ant", although F.rufa is also known as the "horse ant". (However in German, the equivalent term Rossameise refers to the carpenter ants of the genus Camponotus.)
As the name wood ant implies, many Formica species live in wooded areas where there exists no shortage of material with which they can thatch their mounds. The most shade tolerant species are F. lugubris in Eurasia and F. subaenescens (fusca) in North America. However, sunlight is important to most Formica species, and colonies rarely survive for any considerable period in deeply shaded, dense woodland. The majority of species, especially outside the rufa species group, are inhabitants of more open woodlands or treeless grassland or shrubland. In North America, at least, these habitats had a long history of frequent landscape-scale fires that kept them open before European settlement. Conversion to agriculture and fire suppression have reduced the abundance of most American Formica, while the cessation of traditional haycutting seems to have had the same effect in Europe. However, at least a few Formica species may be found in a wide range of habitats from cities to seasides to grasslands to swamps to forests of the temperate Northern Hemisphere.
Mound building, forest dwelling Formica like F. rufa often have a considerable effect on their environment. They maintain large populations of aphids on whose secretions they feed, and the ants defend them from other predators. They also prey on other insects. In fact in many countries they are introduced in forests to control tree pests, such as swains jack pine sawfly and eastern tent caterpillars in North America. The effects of mound-building grassland species such as F. montana are not well-studied but their local abundance, conspicuous mound-building and very frequent association with aphids and membracids points to a comparably important ecological role.
Formica nests are of many different types from simple shaft-and-chamber excavations in soil with a small crater or turret of soil above to large mounds, under stones or logs, or in stumps. None are arboreal. The genus is abundant in both the Nearctic and Palearctic Regions. Due to their relatively large size and diurnal activity, they are among the more commonly seen ants in northern North America.
There are many species of Formica (ITIS records nearly 200). Some species, including Formica rufa, which is common in Southern England, make large visible nests of dry plant stems, leaves, or conifer needles, usually based around a rotting stump. Wood ants typically secrete formic acid; F. rufa can squirt the acid from its acidopore several feet if alarmed, a habit which may have given rise to the archaic term for ant pismire, and by analogy its American equivalent piss-ant. They can be relatively large: F. rufa workers can reach a maximum length of around 10 mm. The eastern US species F. dolosa and the western F. ravida (=haemorrhoidalis) may reach slightly greater lengths.
Formica are notable for their parasitic and slave making behaviors. [top]
LITTLE BLACK ANT
The Little Black Ant (Monomorium minimum) is a species of ant. Members of the species are tiny and shiny black in color. These ants are pests that are usually found outdoors or in wood inside a home that causes it to decay.
Workers are 1/16th inch in length and the queens are 1/8th inch in length. They use recruitment to deal more effectively with large prey. They form colonies with multiple queens.
Ant eggs laid by the queen can take just 10 days to hatch. Winged ants may fly away and start a new colony if the current colony is overpopulated. [top]
ODOROUS HOUSE ANT
This species is a scavenger/predator ant that will eat most household foods, especially those that contain sugar, and other insects. Indoors they will colonize near heat sources or in insulation. In hot and dry situations, nests have been found in house plants and even in the lids of toilets. Outdoors they tend to colonize under rocks and exposed soil. They appear, however, to form colonies virtually anywhere, in a variety of conditions. They can trail extensive distances (though their trails are rarely longer than 50 feet), usually along landscape edges. Colonies range in size from 100-10,000, and house several queens (as many as 200, in some instances). They are non-aggressive. While queens can lay as many as 20-30 eggs in single day, they lay only 1-2 (or less) eggs per day on average over long periods of time. Typical time to adult phase of development is 34–38 days. It is believed that queens and male ants are only produced in larger colonies.
They appear to be more likely to invade homes after rain (which washes away the honeydew they collect).
Odorous house ants appear to be highly tolerant of other ants, with compound nests consisting of multiple ant species (including T. sessile) having been observed. They range in colour from brown to black and range in length from 1/16 to 1/8 inches (1.5–3.2 mm). Their antennae have 12 segments. Little is known about the lifespan of the ant, though it has been shown that queens can live at least 8 months (and probably much longer), workers at least a few months (and show every indication of living as long as queens), and males appear to live only approximately a week.
The odorous house ant is very tough, and injured workers have been observed to continue living and working with little hindrance. Some queens with crushed abdomens could still lay eggs, and there are documented instances of T. sessile queens surviving without food or water for over two months. They also appear highly tolerant to hot and cold temperatures. These ants are tough to remove from the body and leave an odorous smell as well.
These ants are not hard to control, and most ant killers will solve problems, especially if controlled as soon as the problem is noticed. At this point, they could be put under control in just a few days. However, the longer someone waits, the larger the population is and the longer it will take to control the situation, possibly a few weeks. Standing water should be eliminated, as odorous house ants are attracted to moisture. Plants should be trimmed back so they cannot be used to get inside. Cracks, holes and joints should be sealed with polyurethane foam or caulk, especially those that are near the ground. Firewood, rocks and other materials should not be stored next to a home because it encourages nest building. People should be on the lookout for these ants in late winter and early spring (particularly after rain), as this is when they most commonly appear. [top]
The pavement ant, Tetramorium caespitum, is a common household pest. Their name comes from the fact that they usually make their homes in pavement. They are distinguished by two spines on the back, two nodes on the petiole, and grooves on the head and thorax.
During early spring, colonies attempt to conquer new areas and often attack nearby enemy colonies. These result in huge sidewalk battles, sometimes leaving thousands of ants dead. Because of their aggressive nature, they often invade and colonize seemingly impenetrable areas. In summer time the ants dig out the sand in between the pavements to vent the nests.
The pavement ant is dark brown to blackish, and one-eighth inch long. It will eat almost anything, including insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts, ice cream and cheese. The species does not pose a public health risk, but can contaminate food and should be avoided. [top]
BLOW FLY / BOTTLE FLY
Blow-flies (commonly known as carrion flies, bluebottles, greenbottles or cluster flies) are insects in the Order Diptera, family Calliphoridae. The family is known to be non-monophyletic, but much remains disputed regarding proper treatment of the constituent units, some of which are occasionally accorded family status (e.g., Bengaliidae, Helicoboscidae, Polleniidae, Rhiniidae).
The name blow-fly comes from an older English term for meat that had eggs laid on it, which was said to be fly blown. The first known association of the term "blow" with flies appears in the plays of William Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost, The Tempest, and Antony and Cleopatra.
Most species of blowflies studied thus far are anautogenous; a female requires a substantial amount of protein to develop mature eggs within her ovaries (about 800 µg per pair of ovaries in Phormia regina). The current theory is that females visit carrion both for protein and egg laying, but this remains to be proven. Blow-fly eggs, usually yellowish or white in color, are approximately 1.5 mm x 0.4 mm, and, when laid, look like rice balls. While the female blow-fly typically lays 150-200 eggs per batch, she is usually iteroparous, laying around 2,000 eggs during the course of her life. The sex ratio of blowfly eggs is usually 50:50, but one interesting exception is currently documented in the literature. Females from two species of the genus Chrysomya (C. rufifacies and C. albiceps) are either arrhenogenic (laying only male offspring) or thelygenic (laying only female offspring).
Hatching from an egg to the first larval stage takes about 8 hours to one day. Larvae have three stages of development (called instars); each stage is separated by a molting event.The instars are separable by examining the posterior spiracles, or openings to the breathing system. The larvae use proteolytic enzymes in their excreta (as well as mechanical grinding by mouth hooks) to break down proteins on the livestock or corpse they are feeding on. Blowflies are poikilothermic, which is to say that the rate at which they grow and develop is highly dependent on temperature and species. Under room temperature (about 30 degrees Celsius) the black blowfly Phormia regina can go from egg to pupa in 150-266 hours (6 to 11 days). When the third stage is complete the pupa will leave the corpse and burrow into the ground, emerging as an adult 7 to 14 days later. [top]
The cluster flies are the genus Pollenia in the blowfly family Calliphoridae. Unlike more familiar blowflies such as the bluebottle genus Phormia, they do not present a health hazard because they do not lay eggs in human food. They are strictly parasitic on earthworms; the females lay their eggs near earthworm burrows, and the larvae then infest the worms. However, the flies are a nuisance because when the adults emerge in the late summer or autumn they enter houses to hibernate, often in large numbers; they are difficult to eradicate because they favour inaccessible spaces such as roof and wall cavities. They are often seen on windows of little-used rooms. They are also sometimes known as attic flies.
The typical cluster fly Pollenia rudis is about 7 mm long and can be recognised by distinct lines or stripes behind the head, short golden-coloured hairs on the thorax, and irregular light and dark gray areas on the abdomen. Cluster flies are typically slow moving.
Cluster flies have a widespread distribution. Six species are found in Britain and thirty one in Europe. Pollenia species are also and numerous in Australia and New Zealand (over 30 spp); they are a common pest. [top]
Crane flies are insects in the family Tipulidae. Adults are very slender, long-legged flies that may vary in length from 2–60 millimetres (0.079–2.4 in) (tropical species may exceed 100 millimetres or 3.9 in).
The larvae of the European Crane Fly are commonly known as Leatherjackets. These larvae can cause damage to lawns by feeding on the roots of grass plants.
Numerous other common names have been applied to the crane fly, many of them more or less regional, including mosquito hawk, mosquito eater (or skeeter eater), gallinipper, and gollywhopper.
In appearance crane flies seem long and gangly, with very long legs, and a long slender abdomen. The wings are often held out when at rest, making the large halteres easily visible. Unlike most flies, crane flies are weak and poor fliers with a tendency to "wobble" in unpredictable patterns during flight, and they can be caught without much effort.
Crane flies vary in size, with temperate species ranging from 2 to 60 millimetres (0.079 to 2.4 in), while tropical species have been recorded at over 100 millimetres (3.9 in). The giant crane fly (Holorusia rubiginosa) of the western United States can reach 38 millimetres (1.5 in). Some Tipula species are 64 millimetres (2.5 in). Many smaller species (known as bobbing gnats) are mosquito-sized, but they can be distinguished from mosquitoes by the V-shaped suture on the thorax, nonpiercing mouthparts, and a lack of scales on the wing veins.
Despite their common names, as adults, crane flies do not prey on mosquitoes, nor do they bite humans. Some larval crane flies are predatory and may eat mosquito larvae. Adult crane flies feed on nectar or they do not feed at all; once they become adults, most crane fly species exist as adults only to mate and die. Their larvae, called "leatherjackets", "leatherbacks", "leatherback bugs" or "leatherjacket slugs", because of the way they move, consume roots (such as those of turf grass) and other vegetation, in some cases causing damage to plants. The crane fly is occasionally considered a mild turf pest in some areas. In 1935, Lord's Cricket Ground in London was among the venues affected by leatherjackets: several thousand were collected by ground staff and burned, because they caused bald patches on the wicket and the pitch took unaccustomed spin for much of the season.
Little is known of the juvenile biology of many crane fly species. The larvae of less than 2% of the species have been described. Of those that have been described, many prefer moist environments, and some leatherjackets are aquatic. [top]
Flesh-fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae although this is usually because the other larvae are smaller and get in the way. Flesh-flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement and they may be found around compost piles and pit latrines.
Flesh-flies, being viviparous, frequently give birth to live young on corpses of animals, at any stage of decomposition from recently dead through to bloated or decaying (though the latter is more common).
The life cycle of flesh-fly larvae has been well researched and is very predictable. Different species prefer bodies in different states of decomposition, and the specific preferences and predictable life cycle timings allows forensic entomologists to understand the progress of decomposition and enables the calculation of the time of death by back extrapolation. This is done by determining the oldest larva of each species present, measuring the ambient temperature and from these values, calculating the earliest possible date and time for deposition of larvae. This yields an approximate time and date of death (d.o.d.) This evidence can be used in forensic entomology investigations and may assist in identification of a corpse by matching the calculated time of death with reports of missing persons. Such evidence has also been used to help identify murderers.
Flesh-flies can carry leprosy bacilli and can transmit intestinal pseudomyiasis to people who eat the flesh-fly larvae. Flesh-flies, particularly Wohlfahrtia magnifica, can also cause myiasis in animals, mostly to sheep, and can give them blood poisoning, or asymptomatic leprosy infections. [top]
Drosophila are small flies, typically pale yellow to reddish brown to black, with red eyes. Many species, including the noted Hawaiian picture-wings, have distinct black patterns on the wings. The plumose (feathery) arista, bristling of the head and thorax, and wing venation are characters used to diagnose the family. Most are small, about 2–4 millimetres long, but some, especially many of the Hawaiian species, are larger than a house fly.
Drosophila are found all around the world, with more species in the tropical regions. They can be found in deserts, tropical rainforest, cities, swamps, and alpine zones. Some northern species hibernate. Most species breed in various kinds of decaying plant and fungal material, including fruit, bark, slime fluxes, flowers, and mushrooms. The larvae of at least one species, D. suzukii, can also feed in fresh fruit and can sometimes be a pest. A few species have switched to being parasites or predators. Many species can be attracted to baits of fermented bananas or mushrooms, but others are not attracted to any kind of baits. Males may congregate at patches of suitable breeding substrate to compete for the females, or form leks, conducting courtship in an area separate from breeding sites.
Several Drosophila species are closely associated with humans, and are often referred to as domestic species. These and other species have been accidentally introduced around the world by human activities such as fruit transports. [top]
The housefly (also house fly, house-fly or common housefly), Musca domestica, is the most common of all flies found in homes, and indeed one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world; it is often considered a pest that can carry serious diseases.
Even though the order of flies (Diptera) is much older, true houseflies are believed to have evolved in the beginning of the Cenozoic era, some 65 million years ago. House flies feed on liquid or semi-liquid substances beside solid material which has been softened by saliva or vomit. Because of their high intake of food, they deposit feces constantly, one of the factors that makes the insect a dangerous carrier of pathogens. Although they are domestic flies, usually confined to the human habitations, they can fly for several miles from the breeding place. They are active only in daytime and rest at night e.g. at the corners of rooms, ceiling hangings, etc. [top]
BLACK WIDOW SPIDER
Latrodectus hesperus, the Western black widow spider or Western widow, is a highly venomous spider species found in western regions of the United States of America. The female's body is 14–16 millimeters in length and is black, often with an hourglass shaped red mark on the lower abdomen. The male of the species is around half this size and generally a tan color with lighter striping on the abdomen. The population was previously described as a subspecies of Latrodectus mactans and it is closely related to the northern species Latrodectus variolus. The species, as with others of the genus, build irregular webs, the strands of which are very strong down below.
The female's consumption of the male after courtship, a cannabilistic and suicidal behaviour observed in Latrodectus hasseltii (Australia's redback), is rare in this species. Male Western widows may breed several times during its relatively shorter lifespan.
The ultimate strength and other physical properties of Latrodectus hesperus silk were found to be similar to the properties of silk from orb weaving spiders that had been tested in other studies. The ultimate strength for the three kinds of silk measured in the Blackledge study was about 1000 Mpa. [top]
BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER
The brown recluse spider or violin spider, Loxosceles reclusa, is a well-known member of the family Sicariidae (formerly placed in a family "Loxoscelidae").
It is usually between 6–20 mm (¼ in and ¼ in), but may grow larger. It is brown and sometimes an almost deep yellow color and usually has markings on the dorsal side of its cephalothorax, with a black line coming from it that looks like a violin with the neck of the violin pointing to the rear of the spider, resulting in the nicknames fiddleback spider, brown fiddler or violin spider.
Since the violin pattern is not diagnostic, and other spiders may have similar marking (i.e. cellar spiders and pirate spiders), for purposes of identification it is far more important to examine the eyes. Differing from most spiders, which have eight eyes, recluse spiders have six eyes arranged in pairs (dyads) with one median pair and two lateral pairs. Only a few other spiders have 3 pairs of eyes arranged this way (e.g., scytodids), and recluses can be distinguished from these as recluse abdomens have no coloration pattern nor do their legs, which also lack spines. [top]
CELLAR SPIDER / DADDY LONG LEGS
The cellar spider or daddy longlegs (Pholcus phalangioides), also known as the skull spider due to its cephalothorax looking like a human skull, is a spider of the family Pholcidae. Females have a body length of about 9 mm; males are slightly smaller. Its legs are about 5 or 6 times the length of its body (reaching up to 7 cm of leg span in females). Its habit of living on the ceilings of rooms, caves, garages or cellars gives rise to one of its common names. In Australian homes, they are considered beneficial because it is sometimes believed they will kill and eat the venomous Redback spider.
It has the habit of shaking its web violently when disturbed as a defence mechanism against predators. They can easily catch and eat other spiders (even those much larger than itself, such as Tegenaria duellica), mosquitoes and other insects, and woodlice. When food is scarce, they will prey on their own kind.
Because they originally came from the tropics, these spiders do not appear to be influenced by seasonal changes and breed at any time of the year. The female holds the 20 to 30 eggs in her pedipalps. Spiderlings are transparent with short legs and change their skin about 5 or 6 times as they mature.
An urban legend states that these are the most venomous spiders in the world, but because their fangs are unable to penetrate human skin, they are harmless to humans. However, recent research has shown that pholcid venom has a relatively weak effect on insects. In the MythBusters episode "Daddy Long-Legs" it was shown that the spider's fangs (0.25mm) could penetrate human skin (0.1mm) but that only a very mild burning feeling was felt for a few seconds. [top]
DOMESTIC HOUSE SPIDER
The coloring of an adult T. domestica is typically dark orange to beige, with a common characteristic of striped legs and two black stripes on the cephalothorax. The abdomen is gray. In North American species, however, these colors might change for darker, almost indiscernible shades of brown. This is probably due to an adaptation of spider mimetism, set to copy the colors of T. agrestis (hobo spider) species, which the domestic house spider competes with over certain regions.
They are active and agile hunters, relying on both their vision and movement speed instead of web mechanisms. Their eye configuration, with six out of eight sighting forward, allows them to distinguish even the smallest movement in front of them and either follow it, or retreat, if the movement is too considerable. These spiders are also known to be photosensitive, i.e. moving to or fleeing from the light, depending on situations.
Like many agelenids, these spiders are very precise on their movements. Instead of following a continuous gait pattern, they usually move in short intervals, stopping several times before deciding where to head next. Males will wander aimlessly around the house if undisturbed, but will soon switch to the running interval if prey or threat are spotted. Their legs are perfectly fit for walking (with tarsi bent outward on the tips) and spiders can run over quite long distances in both situations.
On several occasions, however, they also build a web. It usually consists of a multitude of stressed silk threads spun over a flat surface (such as a windowsill) near any corner, with a funnel-like structure reaching for the corner, in which the spider would typically reside (hence the name). These webs can become quite large if undisturbed. They act like cord strings, helping the spider glide over them, and once a prey stumbles into the web, it will quickly get attacked, then dragged inside the funnel part and eaten, but very rarely stored underneath the structure.
Females that dwell indoors would usually live for over one or two years on the same web, with some residing for as long as seven years in rarely disturbed places (attics, basement or cellar parts, storage rooms, etc.). Outdoor females perish with cold weather and males rarely live for over a year. In late Fall, an egg sac is made containing up to 50 eggs and put in the very tip of the funnel, protected by the female. The spiderlings will hatch in early to mid April and go over seven molts to reach adulthood.
T. domestica bears a behavior toward large intruders that may be perceived aggressive. As long as its web is undisturbed, the spider will retreat to the funnel tip and stop responding to any movement whatsoever. If the web is attacked and partially destroyed, the spider will run toward the intruder and try to confuse it with irregular movements (randomly running around it, for example). If the threat is fast enough to follow them, the spider will then walk on cast objects, including protruded body parts, in hopes of reaching soft tissue to inflict a bite. Because of its speed, it can cross even the most slippery surfaces and softened clothes rapidly. The greatest danger will be represented by T. domestica if it gets stuck between clothes and skin, both consecutively and accidentally (while occupying a sleeve of one's shirt, for example).
Domestic house spiders deliver venomous bites on almost all occasions. Their venom is both neuro- and necrotoxic and can leave small lesions over the bitten area, similar to that of a burn. Besides causing considerable local pain, venom effects are minimal in healthy adults and may sometimes include malaise and fatigue feelings in children and elderly, but will usually wear off on the same day. The bite area is better treated with iodine and will disappear within the next three days. No medical attention is required.
Surprisingly enough, these spiders can be very docile if recently fed, as often tend to overeat and digest the processed food. When doing so, they can easily be manipulated and even taken away from their webs and grabbed, without much aggressive behavior. On the contrary, females protecting their eggs can also appear to be slow moving and docile, but will not hesitate to defend their young. At any situations, it is recommended to handle the spider with care and make sure it has first been dealt with when removing its web. [top]
The European garden spider, diadem spider, cross spider, or cross orbweaver (Araneus diadematus) is a very common and well-known orb-weaver spider in Europe and parts of North America, in a range extending from New England and the Southeast to California and the northwestern United States and adjacent parts of southern Canada.
Individual spiders' colouring can range from extremely light yellow to very dark grey, but all European garden spiders have mottled markings across the back with five or more large white dots forming a cross. The white dots result from cells that are filled with guanine, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
Adult females range in length from 6.5 to 20 mm (0.26 to 0.79 in) while males range from 5.5 to 13 mm (0.22 to 0.51 in). The third pair of legs of garden spiders are specialized for assisting in the spinning of orb webs. These spiders also use them to move around on their web without getting stuck. These legs are useful only in the web; while on the ground, these legs are of little value.
Since this tends to be a passive animal, it is difficult to provoke to bite—but if it does, the bite is just slightly unpleasant and completely harmless to humans.
The webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web, or in a nearby leaf (with a signal thread attached to a leg), waiting for prey to get entangled in the web. The prey is then quickly captured and wrapped in silk before being eaten. Orb spiders are said to eat their webs each night along with many of the small insects stuck to it. They have been observed doing this within a couple of minutes. A new web is then spun in the morning. The much smaller male will approach the female cautiously to mate. If not careful, he could end up being eaten by her. [top]
The hobo spider (Tegenaria agrestis) is a member of the genus of spiders known colloquially as funnel web spiders, but not to be confused with the potentially deadly Australian funnel-web spider. It is one of a small number of spiders in North America whose bites are generally considered to be medically significant. Individuals construct a funnel-shaped structure of silk sheeting and lie in wait at the small end of the funnel for prey insects to blunder onto their webs. Hobo spiders sometimes build their webs in or around human habitations. Although this species of spider has a reputation for aggressiveness, they will normally avoid contact with humans. Most bites occur when the spider is accidentally crushed or squeezed by a human. The spider's venom is strong enough to cause considerable local pain and, purportedly, necrosis.
The toxicity and aggression of the hobo spider are currently disputed by arachnologists. One common name, the aggressive house spider may arise from a misinterpretation of the Latin name agrestis, (lit. "of the fields") as "aggressive". If a hobo spider is tending an egg sac, it may become aggressive if it perceives the egg sac as being threatened. However, they generally do not bite unless forced to protect themselves, and in the majority of cases the hobo spider does not actually inject venom when it does bite
In the United States, the hobo spider has been considered to be a dangerous species based on a toxicology study on rabbits where lesions appeared after spiders were induced to bite the rabbits. This laboratory study has led to the proposal that in some parts of the U.S. nearly all bites imputed to the brown recluse spider are in reality the hobo spider's bite. The CDC and other U.S. government agencies have also used this same study as the basis for a report claiming that the hobo spider bite causes necrosis in humans, despite the absence of any confirmed cases. Subsequent attempts to replicate the study by injecting sufficient venom to ensure envenomation have failed to produce necrotic lesions, and there is even question as to whether the lesions observed in the original study were necrotic.
In Canada, there are scientists who claim that no hobo spider bites lead to dermal necrosis. Hobo spiders are common in Europe, though bites are relatively unknown, and there are no confirmed reports of them causing necrosis despite hundreds of years of coexistence there. The only documented case of a verified hobo spider bite leading to necrotic skin lesions involves a person who had a pre-existing medical condition (phlebitis) that can also cause the appearance of skin lesions. Hobo spider bites are not known to be fatal to healthy humans. The necrosis in purported cases is similar to, but milder than, that caused by the brown recluse spider, and in severe cases can take months to heal. Other reported symptoms include intense headaches, vision abnormalities, and/or general feelings of malaise. [top]
Tarantulas mainly eat insects and other arthropods, using ambush as their primary method of prey capture. The biggest tarantulas can kill animals as large as lizards, mice, and birds. Tarantulas are found in tropical and desert regions around the world. Most tarantulas are harmless to humans, and some species are popular in the exotic pet trade. All tarantulas are venomous, but only some species have venom that, while not known to have ever produced human fatalities, can produce extreme discomfort over a period of several days.
The majority of North American tarantulas are brown. Elsewhere have been found species colored cobalt blue (Haplopelma lividum), black with white stripes (Aphonopelma seemanni), yellow leg markings (Eupalaestrus campestratus), metallic blue legs with vibrant orange abdomen and greenbottle blue (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens). Their natural habitats include savanna, grasslands such as the pampas, rainforests, deserts, scrubland, mountains, and cloud forests. They are generally divided into terrestrial types that frequently make burrows and arboreal types that build tented shelters well off the ground.
Despite their often threatening appearance and reputation, no tarantula has been known to have a bite that is deadly to humans. In general, the effects of the bites of all kinds of tarantula are not well known. While the bites of many species are known to be no worse than a wasp sting, accounts of bites by some species are reported to be very painful and to produce intense spasms that may recur over a period of several days. In all cases, it is prudent to seek medical aid. Because other proteins are included when a toxin is injected, some individuals may suffer severe symptoms due to an allergic reaction rather than to the venom. Such allergic effects can be life-threatening.
Before biting, tarantulas may signal their intention to attack by rearing up into a "threat posture", which may involve raising their prosoma and lifting their front legs into the air, spreading and extending their fangs, and (in certain species) making a loud hissing by stridulating. Their next step, short of biting, may be to slap down on the intruder with their raised front legs. If that response fails to deter the attacker, the tarantulas of the Americas may next turn away and flick urticating hairs toward the pursuing predator. The next response may be leave the scene entirely, but, especially if there is no line of retreat, their final response may also be to whirl suddenly and bite. Some tarantulas are well known to give "dry bites," i.e., they may defensively bite some animal that intrudes on their space and threatens them, but they will not pump venom into the wound.
While no fatalities have been attributed to tarantula bites, sometimes spider bites are regarded as the probable source of infections. Medical advice regarding prophylaxis may be helpful in that regard. In addition, there is considerable anecdotal evidence indicating that the venoms of some old-world species can produce symptoms so severe that medical treatment would be appropriate. Medical intervention is also regarded as appropriate when symptoms such as breathing difficulty or chest pain develop, since these conditions may indicate an anaphylactic reaction. As with bee stings, allergic reactions to protein fractions may be many times more dangerous than the direct toxic effects of the venom. [top]
Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae, from the Ancient Greek word "λύκος" meaning "wolf". They are robust and agile hunters with good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic hunters pouncing upon prey as they find it or even chasing it over short distances. Some will even wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow.
Their eyes reflect light well, allowing someone with a flashlight to easily hunt for them at night. Flashing a beam of light over the spider will produce eyeshine. The light from the flashlight has been reflected from the spider's eyes directly back toward its source, producing a "glow" that is easily noticed. This is also especially helpful because the wolf spiders are nocturnal and will be out hunting for food, making it easier to find them.
Because they depend on camouflage for protection, they do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their coloration is appropriate to their favorite habitat.
There are many smaller wolf spiders. They live on pastures and fields and are an important natural control on harmful insects.
Wolf spiders are capable of defensive bites, and some South American species may give bites that are medically significant. However, in general their presence works in favor of humans because they consume insects.
Wolf spiders will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of their venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, the bite of some species may be painful. In the past, necrotic bites have been attributed to some South American species, but further investigation has indicated that those problems that did occur were probably actually due to bites by members of other genera. Australian wolf spiders have also been associated with necrotic wounds, but careful study has likewise shown them not to produce such results.
Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats both coastal and inland. These include shrublands, woodland, wet coastal forest, alpine meadows, and suburban gardens. Spiderlings disperse aerially and consequently wolf spiders have wide distributions. Although some species have very specific microhabitat needs (such as stream-side gravel beds or montane herb-fields) most are wanderers without permanent homes. Some build burrows which can be opened or have a trapdoor. Arid zone species construct turrets or plug their holes with leaves and pebbles during the rainy season to protect themselves from flood waters. [top]
ASIAN TIGER MOSQUITO
The Asian tiger mosquito or forest day mosquito is characterized by its black and white striped legs, and small black and white striped body. It is native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia; however, in the past couple of decades this species has invaded many countries throughout the world through the transport of goods and increasing international travel. This mosquito has become a significant pest in many communities because it closely associates with humans (rather than living in wetlands), and typically flies and feeds in the daytime in addition to at dusk and dawn. The insect is called a tiger mosquito because its striped appearance is similar to a tiger.
Like other mosquito species, only the females require a blood meal to develop their eggs. Apart from that, they feed on nectar and other sweet plant juices just as the males do. In regards to host location, carbon dioxide and organic substances produced from the host, humidity, and optical recognition play important roles.
The search for a host takes place in two phases. First, the mosquito exhibits a nonspecific searching behavior until it perceives host stimulants, wherupon it secondly takes a targeted approach. For catching tiger mosquitoes with special traps, carbon dioxide and a combination of chemicals that naturally occur in human skin (fatty acids, ammonia, and lactic acid) are the most attractive.
The Asian tiger mosquito particularly bites in forests during the day and has been known as the forest day mosquito for this very reason. Depending upon region and biotype, there are differing active peaks, but for the most part they rest during the morning and night hours. They search for their hosts inside and outside of human dwellings, but are particularly active outside. The size of the blood meal depends upon the size of the mosquito, but it is usually around 2 microlitres.
It also bites other mammals besides humans and they also bite birds. They are always on the search for a host and are both persistent and cautious when it comes to their blood meal and host location. Their blood meal is often broken off short without enough blood ingested for the development of their eggs. This is why Asian tiger mosquitoes bite multiple hosts during their development cycle of the egg, making them particularly efficient at transmitting diseases. The mannerism of biting diverse host species enables the Asian tiger mosquito to be a potential bridge vector for certain pathogens, for example, the West Nile virus that can jump species boundaries. [top]
A bedbug can individually and collectively cause a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. Bedbug bites or cimicosis may lead to a range of skin manifestations from no visible effects to prominent blisters. Diagnosis involves both finding bedbugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Treatment involves the elimination of the insect but is otherwise symptomatic.
Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase in developed countries, bedbug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well, since the 1980s-1990s. The exact causes of this resurgence remain unclear; it is variously ascribed to greater foreign travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, a greater focus on control of other pests resulting in neglect of bedbug countermeasures, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bedbugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
Individual responses to bites vary, ranging from no visible effect to small macular spots, prominent wheals and bullae formation along with intense itching that may last several days. Symptoms may not appear until some days after the bites have occurred. Reactions often become more brisk after multiple bites due to possible sensitization to the salivary proteins of the bedbug. The skin reaction usually occurs in the area of the bite which is most commonly the arms, shoulders and legs as they are more frequently exposed at night.
A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented. Due to each bite taking about 1 ml of blood chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia. Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous. Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens however evidence of this association is limited. There is no evidence that bedbugs transmit infectious diseases even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated. The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.
These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating. They are attracted by body warmth and carbon dioxide. Transfer to new places is usually in the personal effects of the human they feed upon.
A definitive diagnosis of health effects due to bed bugs requires a search for and finding of the insect in the sleeping environment as symptoms are not sufficiently specific. Other possible conditions with which these conditions can be confused include: scabies, allergic reactions, mosquito bites, spider bites, chicken pox and bacterial skin infections. Bed bugs classically form a line of bites colloquially referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" and rarely feed in the armpit or behind the knee which may help differentiate it from other biting insects. If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described.
Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bedbugs from a home or workplace; eradication frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non pesticide approaches.Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include: pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and there are concerns of negative health effects from their usage. Mechanical approaches such as vacuuming up the insects and heat treating or wrapping mattresses have been recommended. [top]
The cat flea's primary host is the domestic cat, but this is also the primary flea infesting dogs in most of the world. The cat flea can also maintain its life cycle on other carnivores and on the Virginia opossum. Humans can be bitten but cannot be infested, so a population of cat fleas cannot be sustained by this aberrant host.
The female cat flea lays her eggs on the host, but the eggs, once dry, have evolved to filter out of the haircoat of the host into the resting and sheltering area of the host.
The eggs hatch into larvae, which are negatively phototaxic, meaning that they hide from light in the substrate. Flea larvae feed on a variety of organic substances, but most importantly subsist on dried blood that is filtered out of the haircoat of the host after it is deposited there as adult flea fecal material. Thus the adult population on the host feeds the larval population in the host's environment.
A few fleas on adult dogs or cats cause little harm unless the host becomes allergic to substances in saliva. The disease that results is called flea allergy dermatitis. Small animals with large infestations can lose enough bodily fluid to fleas feeding that dehydration may result. Fleas are also responsible for disease transmission through humans. If the fleas have been sucking blood, then they will have a reddish-brown colour when squashed.
Cat fleas can transmit other parasites and infections to dogs and cats and also to humans. The most prominent of these are Bartonella, murine typhus, and apedermatitis. The tapeworm Dipylidium caninum can be transmitted when a flea is swallowed by pets or humans. In addition, cat fleas have been found to carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, but their ability to transmit the disease is unclear. [top]
A North American insect commonly called the bald-faced hornet (or white-faced hornet or white-tailed hornet). Its well-known features include its hanging paper nests and the females' habit of defending them with repeated stings.
The bald-faced hornet lives throughout North America, including southern Canada, the Rocky Mountains, the western coast of the United States, and most of the eastern US. They are most common in the southeastern United States. They are best known for their large football-shaped paper nest, which they build in the spring for raising their young. These nests can sometimes reach 3 feet tall. Bald-faced hornets are protective of their nests and will sting repeatedly if the nest is physically disturbed. They are more aggressive than both the wasps normally called yellowjackets and members of the Vespa genus, and it is not considered safe to approach the nest for observation purposes. The bald-faced hornet will aggressively attack with little provocation.
Every year, queens that were born and fertilized at the end of the previous season begin a new colony. The queen selects a location for its nest, begins building it, lays a first batch of eggs and feeds this first group of larvae. These become workers and will assume the chore of expanding the nest — done by chewing up wood which is mixed with a starch in their saliva. This mixture is then spread with their mandibles and legs, drying into the paper-like substance that makes up the nest. The workers also guard the nest and feed on nectar, tree sap and fruit pulp. They also capture insects and arthropods, which are chewed up to be fed to the larvae. In addition, Bald-Faced Hornets have been observed scavenging raw meat. This continues through summer and into fall. Near the end of summer, or early in the fall, the queen begins to lay eggs which will become drones and new queens. After pupation, these fertile males and females will mate, setting up next year's cycle of growth.
Bald-face hornets will sting repeatedly if the nest is disturbed. Like other stinging wasps, they can sting repeatedly because the stinger does not become stuck in the skin. Some suggest putting baking soda or meat tenderizer on the area of the sting, but others say such treatments do not work. [top]
A bumblebee (or bumble bee) is any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere.
Bumblebees are social insects that are characterized by black and yellow body hairs, often in bands. However, some species have orange or red on their bodies, or may be entirely black. Another obvious (but not unique) characteristic is the soft nature of the hair (long, branched setae), called pile, that covers their entire body, making them appear and feel fuzzy. They are best distinguished from similarly large, fuzzy bees by the form of the female hind leg, which is modified to form a corbicula; a shiny concave surface that is bare, but surrounded by a fringe of hairs used to transport pollen (in similar bees, the hind leg is completely hairy, and pollen grains are wedged into the hairs for transport).
Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young. [top]
Carpenter bees are large, hairy bees distributed worldwide. Their name comes from the fact that nearly all species build their nests in burrows in dead wood, bamboo, or structural timbers. In several species, the females live alongside their own daughters or sisters, creating a sort of social group. They use wood bits to form partitions between the cells in the nest. A few species bore holes in wood dwellings. Since the tunnels are near the surface, structural damage is generally minor or nonexistent.
They are often mistaken for a bumblebee species, as they can be similar in size and coloration, though most carpenter bees have a shiny abdomen, while in bumblebees the abdomen is completely clothed with dense hair. Males of some species have a white or yellow face, where the females do not; males also often have much larger eyes than the females, which relates to their mating behavior. Male bees are often seen hovering near nests, and will approach nearby animals. However, males are harmless since they do not have a stinger. Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but they are docile and rarely sting unless caught in the hand or otherwise directly provoked.
Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other. It has been occasionally reported that when females cohabit, there may be a division of labor between them, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions.
Carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood, vibrating their bodies as they rasp their mandibles against the wood, each nest having a single entrance which may have many adjacent tunnels. The entrance is often a perfectly circular hole measuring about 16 millimetres (0.63 in) on the underside of a beam or tree limb. Carpenter bees do not eat wood. They discard the bits of wood, or re-use particles to build partitions between cells. The tunnel functions as a nursery for brood and storage for the pollen/nectar upon which the brood subsists. [top]
Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognized species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies (Engel, 1999) though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognized. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.
Honey bees as a group appear to have their center of origin in South and Southeast Asia (including the Philippines), as all but one of the extant species are native to that region, notably the most plesiomorphic living species (Apis florea and A. andreniformis). The first Apis bees appear in the fossil record at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, in European deposits. The origin of these prehistoric honey bees does not necessarily indicate that Europe is where the genus originated, only that it occurred there at that time. There are few known fossil deposits in the suspected region of honey bee origin, and fewer still have been thoroughly studied. There is only one fossil species documented from the New World, Apis nearctica, known from a single 14-million-year old specimen from Nevada. [top]
Paper wasps are 1/4 to 1 inch (1.9 to 2.5 cm)-long wasps that gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material. Paper wasps are also sometimes called umbrella wasps, due to the distinctive design of their nests or other regional variants such as Trinidad & Tobago's use of Jack Spaniard.
The nests of most true paper wasps are characterized by having open combs with cells for brood rearing, and a petiole, or constricted stalk, that anchors the nest. Paper wasps secrete a chemical which repels ants, which they spread around the base of the anchor to prevent the loss of eggs or brood.
Unlike yellowjackets and hornets, which can be very aggressive, polistine paper wasps will generally only attack if they themselves or their nest are threatened. Since their territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals, nests in human-inhabited areas may present an unacceptable hazard.
Most wasps are beneficial in their natural habitat, and are critically important in natural biocontrol. Paper wasps feed on nectar, and other insects, including caterpillars, flies, and beetle larvae, and they are often considered to be beneficial by gardeners. [top]
Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. There are about 2,000 species of scorpions, found widely distributed south of about 49° N, except New Zealand and Antarctica. The northernmost part of the world where scorpions live in the wild is Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in the UK, where a small colony of Euscorpius flavicaudis has been resident since the 1860s. The word scorpion derives from Greek – skorpios.
Scorpions have quite variable lifespans and the actual lifespan of most species is not known. The age range appears to be approximately 4–25 years (25 years being the maximum reported life span in the species Hadrurus arizonensis). Lifespan of Hadogenes species in the wild is estimated at 25–30 years.
Scorpions prefer to live in areas where the temperatures range from 20 °C to 37 °C (68 °F to 99 °F), but may survive from freezing temperatures to the desert heat. Scorpions of the genus Scorpiops living in high Asian mountains, bothriurid scorpions from Patagonia and small Euscorpius scorpions from middle Europe can all survive winter temperatures of about -25 °C. In Repetek (Turkmenistan) there live seven species of scorpions (of which Pectinibuthus birulai is endemic) in temperatures which vary from 49,9 °C to -31 °C.
They are nocturnal and fossorial, finding shelter during the day in the relative cool of underground holes or undersides of rocks and coming out at night to hunt and feed. Scorpions exhibit photophobic behavior, primarily to evade detection by their predators such as birds, centipedes, lizards, mice, possums, and rats.
Scorpions are opportunistic predators of small arthropods and insects. They use their chelae (pincers) to catch the prey initially. Depending on the toxicity of their venom and size of their claws, they will then either crush the prey or inject it with neurotoxic venom. This will kill or paralyze the prey so the scorpion can eat it. Scorpions have a relatively unique style of eating using chelicerae, small claw-like structures that protrude from the mouth that are unique to the Chelicerata among arthropods. The chelicerae, which are very sharp, are used to pull small amounts of food off the prey item for digestion. Scorpions can only digest food in a liquid form; any solid matter (fur, exoskeleton, etc) is disposed of by the scorpion. [top]
Yellow jacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as "wasps" in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black-and-yellow; some are black-and-white (such as the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata), while others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, small size (similar to a honey bee), their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging which can cause pain to the person that has been stung. Yellowjackets are important predators of pest insects.
The yellow jacket's most visible place in American culture is as the mascot of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Black Hills State University, Montana State University Billings, University of Rochester, Berkeley High School (Berkeley, California), Cedarville University, University of Wisconsin–Superior, Randolph-Macon College, Defiance College, Graceland University, and Baldwin-Wallace College. The NHL franchise of Columbus, Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets, formerly used a secondary logo featuring a "blue jacket" insect, based on the yellow jacket. This fictional "blue jacket" resembles a yellow jacket wearing a blue Civil War uniform. [top]
The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), also known as the Palmetto Bug or Waterbug, particularly in the southern United States, is the largest species of common cockroach, and often considered a pest. It is native to the Southern United States, and common in tropical climates. Human activity has extended the insect's range of habitation. Specimens have been observed in eastern North American cities as far north as New York City, Toronto, and Montreal, though its intolerance to cold restricts it to human habitations. Global shipping has transplanted the insects to world ports including Tenerife (Spain), Southern Spain, Greece, Taiwan, and Cape Town and Durban, South Africa.
The insect is believed to have originated in Africa, but had become established in the southern U.S. by the time that it was given its name. [top]
The oriental cockroach (also known as waterbug) is a large species of cockroach, measuring about 1 in (2.5 cm) in length at maturity. It is dark brown to black in colour and has a glossy body. The female Oriental cockroach has a somewhat different appearance to the male, appearing to be wingless at casual glance but has two very short and useless wings just below her head. She has a wider body than the male. The male has long wings, which cover a majority of his body and are brown in colour, and has a more narrow body. The odd male is capable of very short flights, ranging about 2 to 3 meters. The female oriental cockroach looks somewhat similar to the Florida woods cockroach, and may be mistaken for it.
The oriental cockroach tends to travel somewhat more slowly than other species. They are often called "waterbugs" since they prefer dark, moist places. They can often be found around decaying organic matter, and in sewers, drains, damp basements, porches, and other damp locations. They can be found outside in bushes, under leaf groundcover, under mulch, and around other damp places outdoors.
In order to thrive, cockroaches need a place to hide. They prefer warm places and a relatively high humidity if possible; they also need a source of food/liquid. The optimum temperature for oriental cockroaches is between 20 °C (68 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F). Female oriental cockroaches have vestigial tegmina (reduced forewings) and males have longer tegmina. Cockroaches are mainly nocturnal. Oriental cockroaches can be elusive in that a casual inspection of an infested dwelling during the day may show no signs of roach activity.
Signs of cockroaches are their oothecae, which are “egg cases” containing up to 16 individual eggs in the case of oriental cockroaches. These oothecae are dropped by females and hatch on their own in about two months. Oriental cockroaches can be harder to get rid of than other roaches. Although adults can be fairly easily killed by the application of residual insecticide, the insecticides can get washed away, and two months later females can hatch new nymphs. [top]
The German cockroach, Croton bug or Steam fly (Blattella germanica) is a small species of cockroach, measuring about 1.3 cm (0.51 in) to 1.6 cm (0.63 in) long. It can be tan through brown to almost black, and has two dark parallel streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Although it has wings, it is unable to sustain flight. The German cockroach is one of the most common and prominent household cockroaches in the world, and can be found throughout many human settlements. These insects are particularly fond of inhabiting restaurants, food processing facilities, hotels, and nursing homes. In colder climates, they are found only near human habitats, since they are not very tolerant to cold. However German cockroaches have been found as far north as Alert, Nunavut. The German cockroach is originally from Asia and very common in Russia, not in Germany. It is very closely related to the Asian cockroach, and to the casual observer they appear nearly identical and may be mistaken for the other. This cockroach can be seen in the day occasionally, especially if there is a large population or if they have been disturbed. However, sightings are most commonly reported in the evening hours as they are most active at night. [top]
FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE / SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE
Termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use a decentralised, self-organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence to exploit food sources and environments that could not be available to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.
Termites are sometimes called "white ants", though they are not closely related to true ants.
A female that has flown, mated, and is producing eggs is called a "queen". Similarly, a male that has flown, mated, and remains in proximity to a queen, is termed a "king". Research using genetic techniques to determine relatedness of colony members is showing that the idea that colonies are only ever headed by a monogamous royal pair is wrong. Multiple pairs of reproductives within a colony are not uncommon. In the families Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae, and possibly others, sperm competition does not seem to occur (male genitalia are very simple and the sperm are anucleate), suggesting that only one male (king) generally mates within the colony.
At maturity, a primary queen has a great capacity to lay eggs. The king grows only slightly larger after initial mating and continues to mate with the queen for life.
Worker termites undertake the labors of foraging, food storage, brood and nest maintenance, and some defense duties in certain species. Workers are the main caste in the colony for the digestion of cellulose in food and are the most likely to be found in infested wood.
Termites are generally grouped according to their feeding behaviour. Thus, the commonly used general groupings are subterranean, soil-feeding, drywood, dampwood, and grass-eating. Of these, subterraneans and drywoods are primarily responsible for damage to human-made structures.All termites eat cellulose in its various forms as plant fibre.
Termite workers build and maintain nests to house their colony. These are elaborate structures made using a combination of soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva, and faeces. A nest has many functions such as to provide a protected living space and to collect water through condensation.
Nests are commonly built underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees or atop living trees. Some species build nests above-ground, and they can develop into mounds. Homeowners need to be careful of tree stumps that have not been dug up. These are prime candidates for termite nests and being close to homes, termites usually end up destroying the siding and sometimes even wooden beams.
Due to their wood-eating habits, many termite species can do great damage to unprotected buildings and other wooden structures. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the timbers are severely damaged and exhibit surface changes. Once termites have entered a building, they do not limit themselves to wood; they also damage paper, cloth, carpets, and other cellulosic materials. Particles taken from soft plastics, plaster, rubber, and sealants such as silicone rubber and acrylics are often employed in construction.
When termites have already penetrated a building, the first action is usually to destroy the colony with insecticides before removing the termites' means of access and fixing the problems that encouraged them in the first place. Baits (feeder stations) with small quantities of disruptive insect hormones or other very slow acting toxins have become the preferred least-toxic management tool in most western countries. This has replaced the dusting of toxins direct into termite tunnel. [top]
The House Mouse (Mus musculus) is one of the most numerous species of the genus Mus commonly termed a mouse. It is a small mammal and a rodent.
Laboratory mice belong to strains of House Mice and are some of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine; they are by far the most commonly used genetically altered laboratory mammal.
House mice have an adult body length (nose to base of tail) of 7.5–10 cm (3.0–3.9 in) and a tail length of 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in); the weight is typically 10–25 g (0.35–0.88 oz). They vary from white to grey, light brown to black, with short hair and a light belly. The ears and tail have little hair. The hind feet are short compared to Apodemus mice, only 15–19 mm (0.59–0.75 in) long; the normal gait is a run with a stride of about 4.5 cm (1.8 in), though they can jump up to 45 cm (18 in). The droppings are blackish, about 3 mm (0.12 in) long, and have a strong musty smell. The voice is a high-pitched squeak. [top]
The brown rat, common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat (Rattus norvegicus) is one of the best known and most common rats.
It is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 25 cm (10 in) long, and a similar tail length; the male weighs on average 350 g (12 oz) and the female 250 g (9 oz). Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents, except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America — making it the most successful mammal on the planet after humans. Indeed, with rare exceptions the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.
The brown rat is a true omnivore and will consume almost anything, but cereals form a substantial part of its diet.
It is common for rats to groom each other and sleep together. As with dogs, rats create a social hierarchy, and each rat has its own place in the pack. Rats are said to establish an order of hierarchy and so one rat will be dominant over another one. Groups of rats tend to "play fight", which can involve any combination of jumping, chasing, tumbling, and boxing. Play fighting involves rats going for each other's necks, while serious fighting involves strikes at the others' back ends.
Rats are known to burrow extensively, both in the wild and in captivity, if given access to a suitable substrate. Rats generally begin a new burrow adjacent to an object or structure, as this provides a sturdy "roof" for the section of the burrow nearest to the ground's surface. Burrows usually develop to eventually include multiple levels of tunnels, as well as a secondary entrance. Older male rats will generally not burrow, while young males and females will burrow vigorously.
Burrows provide rats with shelter and food storage as well as safe, thermoregulated nest sites. Rats use their burrows to escape from perceived threats in the surrounding environment—for example, rats will retreat to their burrows following a sudden, loud noise or while fleeing an intruder. Burrowing can therefore be described as a "pre-encounter defensive behavior", as opposed to a "post-encounter defensive behavior", such as flight, freezing, or avoidance of a threatening stimulus.
Similar to other rodents, brown rats may carry a number of pathogens which can result in disease, including Weil's disease, rat bite fever, cryptosporidiosis, Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), Q fever and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This species can also serve as a reservoir for Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, though the disease usually spreads from rats to humans when domestic cats feed on infected brown rats. The parasite has a long history with the brown rat, and there are indications that the parasite has evolved to alter an infected rat's perception to cat predation, making it more susceptible to predation and increasing the likelihood of transmission.
Surveys and specimens of brown rat populations throughout the world have shown that this species is often associated with outbreaks of trichinosis, but the extent to which the brown rat is responsible in transmitting Trichinella larvae to humans and other synanthropic animals is at least somewhat debatable. Trichinella pseudospiralis, a parasite previously not considered to be a potential pathogen in humans or domestic animals, has been found to be pathogenic in humans and carried by brown rats. [top]
A packrat, also called a woodrat, can be any of the species in the rodent genus Neotoma. Packrats have a rat-like appearance, with long tails, large ears and large black eyes. Compared to deer mice, harvest mice, and grasshopper mice packrats are noticeably larger and are usually somewhat larger than cotton rats.
Each species of pack rat is generally restricted to a given type of habitat within its range. Packrats live anywhere from low, hot, dry deserts to cold, rocky slopes above timberline. Packrats build complex houses or dens made of twigs, cactus joints and other materials. These contain several nest chambers, food caches as well as debris piles. Dens are often built in small caves or rocky crevices, but when close by human habitations, woodrats will opportunistically move into the attics and walls of houses
Packrats are nest builders. They use plant material like branches, twigs, sticks, and other available debris. Getting into everything from attics to car engines, stealing their ‘treasures’, damaging electrical wiring and creating general noisy havoc can easily cause them to become a nuisance. A peculiar characteristic is that if they find something they want, they will drop what they are currently carrying, for example a piece of cactus, and "trade" it for the new item. They are particularly fond of shiny objects. They can also be quite vocal and boisterous, sounding at times as if a "family rift" is taking place.
Packrats are known for their characteristic searching of materials to bring back to their dens. These dens can have several debris piles or "middens" where rejected material is put. In natural environments, the dens are normally built out of sticks, cactus joints, rocks or other materials, which are built up in a large pile and provide protection from predators and against thermal fluctuations.
Active pack rat midden in northern Nevada
In the absence of rock crevices or caves, the dens are often built under trees or bushes. The pack rats will also use plant fragments, animal dung and small rocks in building the den. The vast majority of the materials will be from a radius of several dozen yards of the nest. Woodrats often urinate on the debris piles; sugar and other substances in the urine crystallize as it dries out, creating a material known as amberat, which under some conditions can cement the midden together. The resilience of the middens is due to three factors. The crystallized urine dramatically slows the decay of the materials in the midden. The dry climate of the American Southwest further slows the decay, and middens that are protected from the elements under rock overhangs or in caves survive even longer. [top]
ROOF RAT / BLACK RAT
A typical adult black rat is 12.75–18.25 in (32.4–46.4 cm) long, including a 6.5–10 in (17–25 cm) tail, and weighs 4–12 oz (110–340 g). Despite its name, the black rat exhibits several colour forms. It is usually black to light brown in colour with a lighter underside. In the 1920s in England, several variations were bred and shown alongside domesticated brown rats. This included an unusual green tinted variety.
It is nocturnal and omnivorous, with a preference for grains and fruit. Compared to the brown rat, it is a poor swimmer, but more agile and a better climber, tending even to flee upwards. In a suitable environment it will breed throughout the year, with a female producing three to six litters of up to ten young. Females may regulate their production of offspring during times when food is scarce, throwing as few as only one litter a year. R. rattus lives for about 2–3 years. Social groups of up to sixty can be formed.
Black rats, and their parasites, are able to carry a number of pathogens, of which bubonic plague (via the rat flea), typhus, Weil's disease, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis are the best known. It has been hypothesized that the displacement of black rats by brown rats led to the decline of the Black Death. This theory has, however, been deprecated, as the dates of these displacements do not match the increases and decreases in plague outbreaks. [top]
The Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), sometimes called the Field Mouse or Meadow Mouse, is a small North American vole found across Canada, Alaska and the northern United States. Its range extends further south along the Atlantic coast. One subspecies, the Florida Salt Marsh Vole (M. p. dukecampbelli), is found in Florida, and is classified as endangered. It is also found in Chihuahua, Mexico.
The Meadow Vole is active year-round, usually at night. It also digs underground burrows where it stores food for the winter and females give birth to their young. Although these animals tend to live close together, they are aggressive towards one other. This is particularly evident in males during the breeding season. It can cause damage to fruit trees, garden plants and commercial grain crops. [top]
White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is a rodent native to North America. It ranges from the Ontario, Quebec, Labrador and the Maritime Provinces (excluding island of Newfoundland) to the southwest USA and Mexico. It is also known as the Woodmouse, particularly in Texas.
Adults are 90–100 millimetres (3.5–3.9 in) in length, not counting the tail, which can add another 63–97 millimetres (2.5–3.8 in). A young adult weighs 20–30 grams (0.7–1.1 oz). While their maximum life span is 96 months, the mean life expectancy for the species is 45.5 months for females and 47.5 for males. In northern climates the average life expectancy is 12-24 months.
This species is similar to Peromyscus maniculatus, the Deer Mouse. Like the deer mouse, it may carry hantaviruses, which cause severe illness in humans.
It has also been found to be a competent reservoir for the Lyme disease causing spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. [top]
Peromyscus maniculatus is a rodent native to North America. It is most commonly called the Deer Mouse, although that name is common to most species of Peromyscus and is fairly widespread across the continent, with the major exception being the southeast United States and the far north.
Like other Peromyscus species, it is a carrier of emerging diseases such as hantaviruses and lyme disease. It is closely related to Peromyscus leucopus, the White-footed Mouse.
Deer mice are nocturnal creatures who spend the day time in areas such as trees or burrows where they have nests made of plant material. The individual litters of deer mice are contained by the female mother in an individual home range. The deer mice do not mingle in groups with their litters. During the development stages, the mice within one litter interact much more than mice of two different litters. Although deer mice live in individual home ranges, these ranges do tend to overlap. When overlapping occurs, it is more likely to be with opposite sexes rather than with the same sex. Deer mice that live within overlapping home ranges tend to recongnize one another and interact a lot. [top]
AMERICAN DOG TICK
The American dog tick, is a species of tick that is known to carry bacteria responsible for several diseases in humans, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia (Francisella tularensis). It is one of the most well-known of hard ticks. D. variabilis is not the primary vector for Lyme disease, which is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. But a study in Santa Cruz, California, found Borrelia burgdorferi in D. variabilis.
The primary vector for Borrelia burgdorferi is the deer tick Ixodes scapularis in Eastern parts of the United States, and Ixodes pacificus in California and Oregon. Dermacentor variabilis may also carry Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of HGE (human granulocytic ehrlichiosis), and Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the causative agent of HME (human monocytic ehrlichiosis).
Dermacentor ticks may also induce tick paralysis by elaboration of a neurotoxin that induces rapidly progressive flaccid quadriparesis similar to Guillain-Barré syndrome. The neurotoxin prevents presynaptic release of acetylcholine from neuromuscular junctions. [top]
DEER TICK / BLACK-LEGGED TICK
Ixodes scapularis is commonly known as the deer tick or blacklegged tick and in some parts of the USA as the bear tick. It is a hard-bodied tick of the eastern and northern Midwestern United States. It is a vector for several diseases of animals and humans (Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, etc) and is known as the deer tick due to its habit of parasitizing the white-tailed deer.
The image shown to the right is an adult that is unengorged, that is, an adult that has not had a blood meal. This is natural, since the ticks are generally removed immediately upon discovery to minimize the chance of disease. However, the abdomen that holds blood is so much larger when engorged and looks so different from the rest of the tick that it would be easy to assume that an engorged specimen of Ixodes scapularis is an entirely different tick (see photo on lower left). The abdomen is of a light grayish-blue color, whereas the tick itself is chiefly black. In identifying an engorged tick, it is helpful to concentrate on the legs and upper part of the body.
Deer tick females latch onto a host and drink its blood for four to five days. After it is engorged, the tick drops off and overwinters in the leaf litter of the forest floor. The following spring, the female lays several hundred to a few thousand eggs in clusters.
Co-infections complicate Lyme symptoms, especially diagnosis and treatment. It is possible for a tick to carry and transmit one of the co-infections and not Borrelia, making diagnosis difficult and often elusive. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s emerging infections diseases department did a study in rural New Jersey of 100 ticks and found that 55% of the ticks were infected with at least one of the pathogens. [top]
BROWN DOG TICK
The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is a species of tick which is found world-wide, but more commonly in warmer climates. This species is unusual among ticks in that its entire life cycle can be completed indoors.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus will feed on a wide variety of mammals, but dogs are the preferred host in the U.S., and the population can reach pest proportions in houses and kennels.
R. sanguineus is one of the most important vectors of diseases in dogs worldwide. In the United States, R. sanguineus is a vector of the diseases in dogs: canine ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia canis) and canine babesiosis (Babesia canis). In dogs, symptoms of canine ehrlichiosis include lameness and fever; those for babesiosis include fever, anorexia and anemia. Rhipicephalus sanguineus has not been shown to transmit the bacteria which causes Lyme disease in humans. In parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, R. sanguineus is a vector of Rickettsia conorii, known locally as Mediterranean spotted fever, boutenneuse fever, or tick typhus.
R. sanguineus can also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans.
The best management strategy is prevention of infestations in the house or kennel. In addition, the earlier the infestation is discovered, the easier it is to control. Regular grooming and inspection of pets is essential to management, especially when dogs recently quartered or interacted with other dogs. [top]
LONE STAR TICK
The Lone Star Tick is very widespread in the United States ranging from Texas to Iowa in the Midwest and east to the coast where it can be found as far north as Maine. It is most common in wooded areas, particularly in forests with thick underbrush.
Like all ticks, it can be a vector of diseases including human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia chaffeensis), canine and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia ewingii), tularemia (Francisella tularensis), and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI, possibly caused by the spirochete Borrelia lonestari). STARI exhibits a rash similar to that caused by Lyme disease but is generally considered to be less severe.
Though the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, has occasionally been isolated from Lone Star ticks, numerous vector competency tests have demonstrated that this tick is extremely unlikely to be capable of transmitting Lyme disease. There is evidence that the A. americanum saliva inactivates Borrelia burgdorferi more quickly than the saliva of Ixodes scapularis. [top]
BLACK VINE WEEVIL
Otiorhynchus sulcatus, commonly known as the black vine weevil, is native to Europe, but common in North America as well. It is a pest of many garden plants.
The adult weevil is matt black with fused wing covers, and is unable to fly. It feeds at night on the outer edges of leaves, causing the leaves to have a notched margin. Broadleaved evergreen plants such as camellia, rhododendron, euonymus and bergenia are particularly prone to damage, although a wide range of different garden plants is susceptible to attack.
Grubs grow up to 1 cm in length, have a slightly curved, legless body, creamy-white in colour, with a tan-brown head. They live below the soil surface, and feed on roots and cambium at the base of the trunk. They cause most damage to herbaceous plants, particularly those growing in containers, where root growth is restricted. Severe infestations can result in complete root destruction and hence plant death.
The soil dwelling grubs can be controlled using predatory nematodes which can be bought from some garden centres, and by mail order. They are simply mixed with water, and watered onto the soil.
Adult weevils can be controlled by using sticky barriers on the trunks of affected plants, as the weevils return to the soil each day.
Adults can also be manually removed from plants at night when they can be found feeding on leaf edges. Use only a dim torch or candle light to search by, as they will drop to the ground if startled by bright light.
Adults may also be controlled using the fungus Beauveria bassiana, which is a biocontrol. [top]
BOX ELDER BUG
These highly specialized insects feed almost exclusively on the seeds of Acer species. The boxelder bug is sometimes known as a garage beetle or may be confused with other Jadera spp., especially Boisea rubrolineata. The name "stink bug," which is more regularly applied to the family Pentatomidae, is sometimes used to refer to Boisea trivittata. Instead, these insects belong to the family Rhopalidae, the so-called "scentless plant bugs". However, boxelder bugs are redolent and will release a pungent and bad-tasting compound upon being disturbed to discourage predation; this allows them to form conspicuous aggregations without being preyed on.
Although they specialize on Acer seeds, they may pierce plant tissues while feeding. They are not known to cause significant damage and are not considered to be agricultural pests.
They may form large aggregations while sunning themselves in areas near their host plant (e.g. on rocks, shrubs, trees, and man-made structures). However, their presence can frighten and annoy people, thus they are considered nuisance pests. This is especially a problem during the cooler months, when they sometimes invade houses and other man-made structures seeking warmth or a place to overwinter. They remain inactive inside the walls (and behind siding) while the weather is cool.
When the heating systems revive them, some may falsely perceive it to be springtime and enter inhabited parts of the building in search of food, water, and conspecifics. In the spring, the bugs leave their winter hibernation locations to feed and lay eggs on maple or ash trees; aggregations may be seen during this time and well into summer and early fall, depending on the temperature. [top]
Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as "true crickets"), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers, and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs. Crickets are harmless to humans.
The sound emitted by cricket is commonly referred to as chirping; the scientific name is stridulation. Only the male crickets chirp. The sound is emitted by the stridulatory organ, a large vein running along the bottom of each wing, covered with "teeth" (serration) much like a comb does. The chirping sound is created by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing. As he does this, the cricket also holds the wings up and open, so that the wing membranes can act as acoustical sails. It is a popular myth that the cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together.
Crickets are omnivorous scavengers who feed on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi, and some seedling plants. Crickets eat their own dead when there are no other sources of food available, and exhibit predatorial behavior upon weakened, crippled crickets.
Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and have been known to bite humans, mostly without breaking the skin. The bite can, however, be painful when inflicted on sensitive skin such as the webbing between fingers.
Crickets mate in late summer and lay their eggs in the fall. The eggs hatch in the spring and have been estimated to number as high as 200 per fertile female. They lays eggs almost continually, with the females capable of laying at least twice a month. Female crickets have a long needlelike egg-laying organ called an ovipositor.
Crickets are popular as a live food source for carnivorous pets like frogs, lizards, tortoises, salamanders, and spiders. Feeding crickets with nutritious food in order to pass the nutrition onto animals that eat them is known as gut loading. In addition to this, the crickets are often dusted with a mineral supplement powder to ensure complete nutrition to the pet. [top]
Ground beetles are a large, cosmopolitan family of beetles, Carabidae, with more than 40,000 species worldwide, approximately 2,000 of which are found in North America and 2,700 in Europe.
Common habitats are under the bark of trees, under logs, or among rocks or sand by the edge of ponds and rivers. Most species are carnivorous and actively hunt for any invertebrate prey they can overpower. Some will run swiftly to catch their prey; tiger beetles (Cicindelinae) can sustain speeds of 8 km/h (5 mph) – in relation to their body length they are among the very fastest land animals on Earth. Unlike most Carabidae which are nocturnal, the tiger beetles are active diurnal hunters and often brightly coloured; they have large eyes and hunt by sight. Ground beetles of the species Promecognathus laevissimus are specialised predators of the cyanide millipede Harpaphe haydeniana, countering the hydrogen cyanide which makes these millipedes poisonous to most carnivores.
As predators of invertebrates, including many pests, most ground beetles are considered beneficial organisms. The caterpillar hunters (Calosoma) are famous for their habit of devouring insect larvae and pupae in quantity, eagerly feeding on tussock moth (Lymantriidae) caterpillars, processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoeidae) and woolly worms (Arctiidae), which due to their urticating hairs are avoided by most insectivores. Large numbers of the Forest Caterpillar Hunter (C. sycophanta), native to Europe, were shipped to New England for biological control of the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) as early as 1905.
A few species are nuisance pests. Zabrus is one of the few herbivorous ground beetle genera, and on rare occasions Zabrus tenebrioides for example occurs abundantly enough to cause some damage to grain crops. Large species, usually Carabinae, can become a nuisance if present in numbers, particularly during outdoor activities such as camping; they will void their defensive secretions when threatened, and if they hide among provisions this can despoil food. Since ground beetles are generally reluctant or even unable to fly, it is usually easy to block their potential routes of entry mechanically or with a topical insecticide. [top]
Ladybugs are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches), and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. A very large number of this species are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown and may be difficult for non-entomologists to recognize as ladybugs.
A few species are considered pests in North America and Europe, but they are generally considered useful insects as many species feed on aphids or scale insects, which are pests in gardens, agricultural fields, orchards, and similar places. Harmonia axyridis (or the Harlequin ladybug) was introduced into North America from Asia in 1988 to control aphids but is now the most common species as it is out-competing many of the native species.
A common myth is that the number of spots on the insect's back indicates its age.
Most ladybugs are beneficial to gardeners in general, as they feed on aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites throughout the winter. As in many insects, ladybugs in temperate regions enter diapause during the winter, so they often are among the first insects to appear in the spring. Some species gather into groups and move to higher land, such as a mountain, to enter diapause. Predatory ladybugs are usually found on plants where aphids or scale insects are, and they lay their eggs near their prey, to increase the likelihood the larvae will find the prey easily. Ladybugs are cosmopolitan in distribution, as are their prey.
Ladybugs also require a source of pollen for food and are attracted to specific types of plants. The most popular ones are any type of mustard plant, as well as other early blooming nectar and pollen sources, like buckwheat, coriander, red or crimson clover, and legumes like vetches, and also early aphid sources, such as bronze fennel, dill, coriander, caraway, angelica, tansy, yarrow, of the wild carrot family, Apiaceae. Other plants that also attract ladybugs include coreopsis, cosmos (especially the white ones), dandelions and scented geraniums.
In the United States, ladybugs usually begin to appear indoors in the fall. They leave their summer feeding sites in fields, forests and yards looking for a place to spend the winter. Typically when temperatures warm to the mid-60s Fahrenheit in the late afternoon, following a period of cooler weather, they will swarm onto or into buildings illuminated by the sun. Swarms of ladybugs fly to buildings in September through November depending on location and weather conditions. Also, homes or buildings near fields or woods are more prone to infestation. [top]
PILLBUG / SOWBUG
Pillbugs belong to a family of woodlice, a terrestrial crustacean group in the order Isopoda. Unlike members of other woodlouse families, members of this family can roll into a ball, an ability they share with the outwardly similar but unrelated pill millipedes and other animals. It is this ability which gives woodlice in this family their common name of pill bugs or roly polies. The best known species in the family is Armadillidium vulgare, the common pill bug.
Woodlice in the family Armadillidiidae are able to form their bodies into a ball shape, in a process known as conglobation. This behaviour is shared with pill millipedes (which are often confused with pill bugs), armadillos and cuckoo wasps. This behaviour may be triggered by stimuli such as vibrations or pressure, and is a key defence against predation; it also serves to reduce water loss through respiration.
Because of their unusual yet non-threatening appearance, certain types of armadillidiids (typically Armadillidium vulgare) are kept as pets in areas such as the American South, typically among children. Among adults, they are often seen as unwanted (but essentially harmless) home pests. Keeping a pet pill bug requires a very moist habitat with limited light. They can live up to about three years.
Owners of pet tarantulas sometimes keep pill bugs as cage cleaners in the same habitat. The pill bugs eat faeces, mould, and leftovers. They are sometimes caught and fed to pets such as iguanas and other lizards, but this is not recommended since those animals might become poisoned. [top]
Silverfish are small, wingless insects in the order Thysanura. Its common name derives from the animal's silvery light grey and blue colour, combined with the fish-like appearance of its movements, while the scientific name indicates the silverfish's diet of carbohydrates such as sugar or starches.
Silverfish are nocturnal, elongated and flattened insects typically 13–25 millimetres (0.51–0.98 in) long. Their abdomen tapers at the end, giving them a fish-like appearance. The newly hatched are whitish, but develop a greyish hue and metallic shine as they get older. They have three long cerci at the tips of their abdomens, one parallel to their body, one facing left, and one facing right. They also have two small compound eyes.
Silverfish completely lack wings. They have long antennae, and move in a wiggling motion that resembles the movement of a fish. This, coupled with their appearance, influences their common name. Silverfish typically live for two to eight years.
Silverfish consume matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include glue, book bindings, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish can also cause damage to tapestries. Other substances that may be eaten include cotton, linen, silk, synthetic fibres and dead insects or even its own exuvia (moulted exoskeleton). During famine, a silverfish may even attack leatherware and synthetic fabrics. Silverfish can live for a year or more without eating.
Silverfish are considered a household pest, due to their consumption and destruction of property. Although they are responsible for the contamination of food and other types of damage, they do not transmit disease.
Earwigs, house centipedes and spiders are known to be predators of silverfish. [top]
Slug is a common name that is normally applied to any gastropod mollusc that lacks a shell, has a very reduced shell, or has a small internal shell. This is in contrast to the common name snail, which is applied to gastropods that have coiled shells that are big enough to retract into.
The soft, slimy bodies of slugs are prone to desiccation, so land-living slugs are confined to moist environments and must retreat to damp hiding places when the weather is dry. Slugs' bodies are made up mostly of water, and without a full-sized shell, their soft tissues are prone to desiccation. They must generate protective mucus to survive. Many species are most active just after rain because of the moist ground. In drier conditions, they hide in damp places such as under tree bark, fallen logs, rocks, and man-made structures, such as planters, to help retain body moisture.
Slugs produce two types of mucus: one which is thin and watery, and another which is thick and sticky. Both kinds of mucus are hygroscopic. The thin mucus spreads from the foot's centre to its edges, whereas the thick mucus spreads from front to back. Slugs also produce thick mucus which coats the whole body of the animal.
Many slug species play an important ecosystem role by eating dead leaves, fungus, and decaying vegetable material. Other species eat parts of living plants. Some slugs are predators and eat other slugs and snails, or earthworms. Most carnivorous slugs on occasion also eat carrion, including dead of their own kind.
Frogs, toads, snakes, hedgehogs, Salamanders, eastern box turtles, rats, Caecilians and also some birds and beetles are slug predators.
Slugs, when attacked, can contract their body, making themselves harder and more compact, and combined with the slippery mucus is more difficult for many animals to grasp. The unpleasant taste of the mucus is also a deterrent.
The great majority of slug species are harmless to humans and to their interests, but a small number of species are serious pests of agriculture and horticulture. They can destroy foliage faster than plants can grow, thus killing even fairly large plants. They also feed on fruits and vegetables prior to harvest, making holes in the crop, which can make individual items unsuitable to sell for aesthetic reasons, and which can make the crop more vulnerable to rot and disease.
As control measures, baits are the norm in both agriculture and the garden. In recent years iron phosphate baits have emerged and are preferred over the toxic metaldehyde, especially because domestic or wild animals may be exposed to the bait. The environmentally safer iron phosphate has been shown to be at least as effective as poisonous baits. Methiocarb baits are no longer widely used.
Other slug control methods are generally ineffective, but can be somewhat useful in small gardens. These include beer traps, diatomaceous earth, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and copper. [top]
Snails can be found in a very wide range of environments including ditches, deserts, and the abyssal depths of the sea. Although many people are familiar with terrestrial snails, land snails are in the minority. Marine snails constitute the majority of snail species, and have much greater diversity and a greater biomass. Numerous kinds of snail can also be found in fresh waters. Many snails are herbivorous, though a few land species and many marine species are omnivores or predatory carnivores.
Snails that respire using a lung belong to the group Pulmonata, while those with gills form a paraphyletic group; in other words, snails with gills are divided into a number of taxonomic groups that are not very closely related. Snails with lungs and with gills have diversified widely enough over geological time that a few species with gills can be found on land, numerous species with a lung can be found in freshwater, and a few species with a lung can be found in the sea.
Most snails have thousands of microscopic tooth-like structures located on a ribbon-like tongue called a radula. The radula works like a file, ripping the food into small pieces.
In addition to the farming of edible snails, they also impact agriculture as a pest. Snails and slugs destroy crops by eating roots, leaves, stems and fruits. They are able to abrade and consume a large variety of plants with the abrasive radula. Metaldehyde-containing baits are frequently used for snail control, though they should be used with caution as they are toxic to dogs and cats. [top]
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