Ants, Spiders, Wasps. . .OH MY!
Ants in general: Have 6 legs and a hard armor called exoskeleton which covers their bodies. They have a large head with compound eyes. They have elbowed antennae and powerful jaws. They are approximately 1/8 inch long. In our area they are usually brown to black in color. Many have a distinct odor when crushed.
Facts: Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight. They are close relatives of bees and wasps. There are about 200 species of ant in California. When ants fight it is usually to the death.
Typically find ants: They build nests under rocks, in fallen trees and in decayed or moist wood. They will enter your property in search of shelter, food and water.
Beetles in general: Come in a variety of shapes and colors (red, metallic green, black). They range in size from less than a millimeter to over 6 inches long. They have leathery protective wings called elytra that cover and protect their flight wings.
Facts: Nearly half the insects in the world are beetles. The Firefly and lightning bugs (not in California) are beetles that glow in the dark. Colorful Beetles are used for jewelry.
Typically find beetles: They build nests under rocks, in fallen trees and in decayed or moist wood. They will enter your property in search of shelter, food and water.
Earwigs in general: Are long, narrow and have 6 legs. Females pincers are straight and males are curved. They have a set of flight wings and some hard, short wings but they rarely fly. They are approximately ½ to 1 inch long. They are reddish-brown, brown, or black in color.
Facts: The name “Earwig” originated from a myth that it would crawl through your ear while you sleep into your brain. Their pincers are used to capture prey and to fight predators. Even though they look scary they are generally harmless to humans.
Typically find earwigs: In moist, shady places. Under leaves, bark, stones, logs, compost piles. They live in forests, gardens, backyards, fields, orchards, and they can enter through cracks and crevices into your home.
Fleas in general: Are wingless, blood-sucking parasites. They are 1/16 – 1/8 inches long and dark colored. They have long legs which have been adapted for jumping. In our area we usually see Cat fleas which are dark reddish brown/black in color.
Facts: There is an increase in the number of fleas in the spring and early summer. Fleas have been on the planet for approximately 100 million years. A female flea can eat 15 times its body weight each day.
Typically find fleas: Fleas prefer warm, wet and humid regions. Squirrels, raccoons and deer can bring them into your yard where they will live in sheds, high grass, weeds and debris. Your pet will then bring them inside your home. Once in your home they will be in places your pet frequents – their beds, throw rugs or carpet, and walls.
Flies in general:
Range in size from 0.44 mm to 8 cm. They have one pair of flying wings and small club like back wings called halteres which helps stabilize the fly when in flight. They have large compound eyes and short antennae.
Flies live for about 30 days and in that time a female can lay 400 to 600 eggs. Flies are attracted to movement more than color. Flies have taste receptors on the bottom of their feet so they know if what they land on is good to eat.
Typically find flies:
Inside your home you will see them on floors, walls, and ceilings. Outside you will see them on plants, ground, fences and garbage cans. They like to stay near their food source which can be human or animal food, garbage or excrement, or carcasses.
Mice in general:
Small sized, long (usually hairless) tailed rodent. They have pointed noses, furry round bodies and large ears. They come in a variety of colors typically brown, grey, and white. They range in size from 1 to 7 inches (not including the tail).
Mice eat between 15 and 20 times a day. Mice usually enter homes between October and February looking for food and shelter from the cold. Mice use their whiskers to sense changes in temperature. Mice can squeeze through openings the size of a dime.
Typically find mice:
In forests and grasslands (usually in burrows underground) and in man-made structures. Inside they are usually found in cluttered areas like closets or garages or spaces behind major appliances.
Moths in general:
Insects related to butterflies. Unlike butterflies they do not have a small ball at the end of their antennae. Moth’s antennae and bodies are thicker and their wings are smaller and less colorful than butterflies. Range in size from 2 mm to 250 mm (Wingspan length). They usually are dull colored but some have very bright color patterns.
Some moths mimic other animals like wasps, the praying mantis, and tarantulas to avoid being eaten. Moths do not have noses but can detect odors through their antennae.
Typically find moths:
Dark locations such as basements, attics and closets. Inside your home they can be found eating items in your pantry or bedroom closet. Some moths are agricultural general pests and can be seen destroying crops. Some of these same moths are pests in Food plants.
Rats in general: Medium sized, long tailed rodents. They are about 9 to 11 inches long (not including the tail). They are typically brown or black in color but can be Tan, grey or white (and many other exotic colors in pets).
Rats are social; they take care of their sick and can become lonely and depressed if alone. Rats have sharp teeth that are constantly growing. Rats can swim and most actually enjoy it.
Typically find rats:
Anywhere there is shelter, food and water. Inside they live in insulation of walls and ceilings, inside crawl spaces, around hot water heaters, basements, attics, behind / under cabinets, counters, and bathtubs. Outside they live under woodpiles, weeds, bushes, rocks, cars, junk piles, holes, and around garbage.
Roaches in general:
Range in size from ½ to 2 inches long (but the largest species in South America is around 6 inches long). Colors are brown, reddish-brown, and black. They have 6 legs, a pair of antenna, and wings.
Roaches can live a month without food, but only a week without water. They can survive radiation 12 times greater than humans can. A roach can live a week without its head.
Typically find roaches:
They prefer dark, moist places. Inside your home they can be found behind refrigerators, sinks, stoves, major appliances, wallpaper, rubber mats, moist basements and wall cracks. They are nocturnal so they look for food at night. If you see them in the day you probably have an infestation. Outside you can find them around garbage, in trees, and in woodpiles.
Silverfish in general:
Wingless insects, silvery light grey to blue in color. Range in size from ½ to 1 inch long. Their abdomens taper at the end making them look like somewhat like fish.
Silverfish live on average 3 to 6 years a long time for an insect. They can jump as high as 2 feet. They can live for a year without eating. They have been around for 400 million years.
Typically find silverfish:
Indoors – they can be in any room of your home but prefer the kitchen. They are not typically found outdoors.
Spiders in general:
Spiders are arachnids not insects. They range in size from 0.37 mm to 90 mm. They have 8 legs, no antenna and most have 4 sets of eyes. They have appendages that have been modified into spinnerets which spin their webs.
Hummingbirds use sticks and the silk spiders produce to make their nests. Spiders have blue blood. The silk in a spider’s web is 5 times stronger than a strand of steel the same thickness.
Typically find spiders:
Anywhere you find insects. You can find them in and around buildings, plants, weeds, trees and in your home.
Wasps in general:
Come in a wide variety of colors (yellow, brown, metallic blue, bright red). They have pointed lower abdomens and a narrow "waist," called a petiole. They are approximately 1 and 1/2 inches long.
Not all wasps sting but the ones that do sting repeatedly. Brighter colored wasps are usually from the family of wasps that sting. Wasps eat almost every insect that harms our crops.
Typically find wasps:
Wasps usually build their nests in wall voids, cavities, cracks and crevices on your home, garage, shed or wood around your home. They can also build their nests in trees, underground and can sometimes find their way inside your home (ex: in home closets).