Click on a pest above to learn more about prevention, risks, and its charteristics.
Termites mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, dead litter, soil, or animal dung. As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies made up of hundreds to several million individuals. Termites eat from the inside out, making it hard to spot damaged wood. Keep an eye out for soft-bodied, light colored insects about the size of a grain of rice.
Causing over $2 Billion in damages each year, termites are large risks to house foundations, furniture, shelves, and even books. Termite identification and treatment is critical when buying or selling a home.
Indications you may have an infestation include a temporary swarm of winged insects in or around your home (especially following warm rain showers), cracked or bubbling paint, wood that sounds hollow when tapped, mud tubes, and discarded wings.
Eliminate moisture problems by repairing leaking faucets, pipes, A/C units, and get rid of standing water
Keep rain gutters free of debris
Remove excessive plant cover and wood mulch in flowerbeds
Firewood, lumber, and even paper are favorite sites for termites and should be kept away from foundation or crawl spaces
Keep dead or decaying plant materials such as yard clippings, compost heaps, and even tree stumps away from the house
Wood on your home should not be in contact with soil
Ants are the largest pest control problem in the United States. Elimination can be particularly difficult and requires experience and understanding in ant behavior. Most DIY systems are ineffective at attacking entire colonies and only kill the ants you see. While generally a nuisance, there are varieties of ants that swarm and bite when threatened. They may be small, but a single, and especially multiple bites, are certainly painful. Children playing in yards are particularly at risk of such attacks. Carpenter ants can cause serious wood damage in your home if not controlled.
Wood damages in your home
Caulk cracks and crevices around foundations that are key entry points from the outside
Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the home
Eliminate food sources and clean up sugary spills
Belonging to the largest order of all insects (over 300,000 species), beetles are one of the most common types of insects. Beetles feed on plants, small insects and animal fibers. Most are considered pests in gardens and crops. In the late summer and fall beetles often try to invade homes seeking shelter for winter.
Damage to crops and vegetation
Keep dead and decaying plant materials away from home
Ticks, like mites, have bodies that are divided into two primary sections, one containing a small head and mouthparts, and the other a much larger body containing the legs, and essential organs. Ticks satisfy all of their nutritional requirements on a diet of blood. Cutting a hole into the host’s skin, ticks insert their head inside the host to extract the blood leaving their bodies exposed. Areas with sandy soil, hardwood trees, rivers, and the presence of deer are good predictors for dense tick populations.
Ticks spread a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Q fever, Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, to name a few
Know where to expect ticks (moist and humid environments near wooded or grassy areas)
Use insect repellant with DEET
Check clothing for ticks, shower soon, and examine your body after outdoor activities
Regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around home
One of the most common pest complaints, spiders are often found in homes providing a warm area to live. Favorite hiding places are usually dark and dry, but sometimes moist. Basements, boxes, under sinks and around drains are key sighting areas. Mostly harmless to humans, there are a few species that require serious attention and remediation.
Spiders bite while hunting and defending
Most bites cause mild skin irritation, but some can cause infection requiring immediate medical attention
Keep your home clutter and dust free
Replace cardboard boxes with plastic storage bins
Residents in Arizona, California, and Florida are encouraged to consider extermination services to eliminate the more dangerous spiders sometimes found in these states
Commonly found near waste deposits or in the kitchen where food is present, cockroaches can be carriers of various diseases and need attention. Better at hiding than at being found, compounded by the fact that eggs are naturally protected from insecticides, roach extermination requires special equipment, materials and know-how. Reproduction occurs quickly. If you have seen one, there are certainly more. Your home is ideal for breeding with its supply of food, warmth, and water.
Allergens created by cockroaches can aggravate allergies and asthma in children and sensitive individuals
Spread bacteria across surfaces in the home and on food
Clean up spills, dirty dishes or utensils, and uncovered food
Pet food should be stored in tight containers away from the kitchen and other food
Seal cracks and holes in doors, windows, floors, or walls
Decrease hiding places by eliminating clutter
Scorpions live in very dry climates and hide during the day in shady burrows to prevent loss of moisture from their bodies. They invade predators’ homes such as birds, centipedes, lizards, mice, opossums, and rats. Lower temperatures at night bring them out from hiding to hunt and feed. They can live from four to fifteen years.
Venom from stings may cause swelling, numbness, and convulsions
In extreme cases, some people may experience difficulty breathing
Persons allergic to such stings are most likely to die
Trash, logs, stones, and other objects around a home are potential scorpions habitats and should be removed
Plug or seal any holes or cracks on the exterior of your house
Be sure doors and windows close tightly
Shake out shoes or clothing left outside before use
Summer months and standing water of any kind are the unfortunate conditions responsible for mosquitoes. With over 1,000 cases of malaria reported in North America every year, precaution needs to be given to mosquitoes. Skin irritations from bites are most common and experienced by nearly everyone, but transmission of West Nile virus and other diseases is a growing concern in the US. Removing habitats is the best way to prevent mosquitoes.
Bites causing mild to moderate skin irritation
Spread of various diseases and illnesses
Use mosquito repellant when outdoors
Remove standing water from your home
Don’t overlook sites like tree holes, old tires, buckets, toys, potted plant trays, and tarps
Rodents use their oversized front teeth for gnawing and regularly employ such tools in causing great damage in or around homes. Rapid breeding can easily lead to an unwanted population in homes and gardens. Without control, one pair of mice may produce 200 offspring in only four months. Rats are instinctively wary of measures for prevention such as traps and bait and can make their elimination tricky.
Rats are known to harbor and transmit a variety of serious diseases
Mice easily contaminate foods and surfaces in which they come in contact with
Clean up and de-clutter home exterior to decrease nesting areas
Remove food sources such as bird and squirrel feeders, grass seed, pet food and feces, and fallen fruits
The most common bees, wasps, and hornets are all colony-based insects. Bees are the only one primarily involved in pollination and are an integral part of agriculture. Bees and wasps are most known for stinging people, while hornets are far less common to do so. Habits of these stinging pests can be in hives, mud, behind exterior walls, and in papery nests under eaves.
Stings can be painful but are generally not harmful
Persons allergic to such instances must take serious precautions
Garbage cans and other food sources should be covered and sealed
Professional removal of nests and hives
Be cautious when around any existing nests or hives