Other

House Dust Mites

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House dust mites have received much attention in the early 1990s and again recently. The house dust mite is nearly impossible to see without magnification and is named for the fact that they feed on dead skin shed by humans as well as other protein materials.

Habits

House dust mites feed on dander (dead skin which is shed) from humans and animals. They may also feed on protein based foodstuffs, preferring dried products over products with moisture. Females lay up to 80 eggs and there are several stages of immatures. Populations can explode during humid months as mites are excellent at absorbing moisture from the air.

Habitat

The most common area for finding mites is in the bed due to abundance of dander. House dust mites may also be found in living areas especially carpet, furniture, and clothing. Several home test kits are available to test for dust mites.

Threats

People may be allergic to house dust mite cast skins and droppings. These reactions will not be a rash type of reaction but rather a respiratory constriction, a common symptom of asthma. Itchy, watery eyes may also be symptoms. Approximately 50-80% of asthmatics may have symptoms due to house dust mites.

Bed Bugs

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Bed bugs get their name because they like to live and feed in beds.

Habits

Bed bugs like to travel and will hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They are elusive, nocturnal creatures. They can hide behind baseboards, electrical switchplates, picture frames, even wall paper. They come out at night for a blood meal.

Habitat

Bed Bugs like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. They can be found behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and in furniture crevices.

Threats

Although bed bugs can dine on any warm-blooded animal, they primarily dine on humans. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.

Fleas

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Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans.

Habits

Fleas transport themselves on rodents and other mammals. They infest both household pests and wild animals. Fleas use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8 inches vertically and 16 inches horizontally.

Habitat

Fleas usually remain on their warm-blooded hosts at all times. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs, or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments. They are often found infesting opossums, raccoons, and skunks in urban settings.

Threats

Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare Bubonic Plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious Flea Alergy Dermatitus in pets, and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.

Stink Bugs

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This insect, notorious for its “smelly” reputation, earned its name from its tendency to release an odor when disturbed or when crushed. Many other insects have these same characteristics, including some species of ants, beetles and other bugs. Most stink bugs are herbivorous and use their piercing and sucking mouthparts to feed on plant juices. A few common species of stink bugs are predatory and use their mouthparts to drain fluids from caterpillars and other pest insects.

Habits

Most species of stink bugs are innocuous, only feeding on their host plants, and are seldom encountered by humans. Stink bugs feed on a variety of plants, including crop species. When stink bugs feed on tree fruits such as apples, it results in a characteristic distortion, referred to as “cat facing,” that renders the fruit unmarketable. Some species can cause damage in cotton and other crops.

Predatory stink bugs use their mouthparts to drain fluids from other pest insects. Some predatory stink bugs are important, beneficial insects in crops and gardens. They prevent caterpillars and other insect pests from destroying plants, trees, crops and gardens. Scientists are interested in using them as natural control agents of crop pests.

When handled or disturbed, stink bugs are able to secrete a bad-smelling, bad-tasting fluid from pores on the sides of their bodies. This secretion protects stink bugs from predators. They are often fed upon by birds, spiders, assassin bugs and other arthropod predators (including other stink bugs). Many species are attracted to lights at night. Adult stink bugs of various species are active from spring through late fall.

Habitat

During warm months, female stink bugs attach large masses of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. After hatching, the wingless nymphs go through five immature stages before becoming full-sized, winged adults. Stink bugs are not known to bite humans but caution should be used when handling them to avoid a release of their odor.

Indian Meal Moths

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The indianmeal moth was given its name after an insect scientist found it feeding on corn meal, also known as Indian meal. From wing tip to wing tip, adult moths measure from five-eighths of an inch to three-fourths of an inch long.

Habits

These moths like to feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, candies, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, dried red peppers and candy.

Habitat

Attracted to the light, these bugs are found worldwide in areas where food is stored, such as grocery stores.

Threats

Indian Meal Moths infest foods and can contaminate food products.

Earwigs

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Earwigs got their name from the myth that they crawl into sleeping people’s ears and tunnel into their brains. The long cerci, or clippers, on their backsides easily identify an earwig.

Habits

Earwigs hide during the day and feeds on leaves, flowers, fruits, mold and insects at night.

Habitat

These insects live together outdoors in large numbers. They can be found under piles of lawn debris, mulch or in tree holes. They gain entry to a structure through exterior cracks

Threats

Contrary to folklore, earwigs do not crawl into ears and eat peoples’ brains at night. They do not spread diseases, but their menacing appearance can be alarming to a homeowner.

Pillbugs

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This pest is the only crustacean that has become completely adapted to spending its life on land. Pillbugs have oval bodies and seven pairs of legs. They are easily recognized by their back, which is made up of seven hard individual plates. Pillbugs are sometimes referred to as rollie-pollies.

Habits

Pillbugs eat decaying vegetable material and are most active at night. They are known for their ability to roll into a ball.

Habitat

Pillbugs live in moist locations. They are found under damp objects or under vegetable debris.

Threats

Pillbugs do not spread diseases or invade food products. However, the pillbug is often considered a pest when it gains entry into a home.

 

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