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Pest Identifier

Ants

Ants are among the most prevalent pests in households. They are also found in restaurants, hospitals, offices, warehouses, and other buildings where they can find food and water. On outdoor (and sometimes indoor) plants, ants protect and care for honeydew-producing insects such as aphids, soft scales, whiteflies, and mealy bugs, increasing damage from these pests. Ants also perform many useful functions in the environment, such as feeding on other pests (e.g., fleas, caterpillars, and termites), dead insects, and decomposing tissue from dead animals.

Argentine Ant

Identifying characteristics

  • Workers are all the same size, small, 1/8-inch long
  • Uniformly dull brown
  • Musty odor emitted when crushed

Behavior

  • Feed on sweets, fresh fruit, and buds of some plants
  • Tend honeydew-producing species
  • Forage for sweets and oils in homes
  • Travel rapidly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up sides of buildings, along branches of trees and shrubs, along baseboards, and under edges of carpets
  • Colonies may split in spring and summer when queen and workers move to new site; not antagonistic toward each other

Nest type and size

  • Outdoors in soil, under wood, slabs, debris, mulch, or in branches and cavities of trees and shrubs
  • Shallow, 1- to 2-inch deep mounds in open, often disturbed habitats, either moist or dry
  • Millions of ants per colony with multiple queens and many sub colonies

Odorous house ant

Identifying characteristics

  • Workers are all the same size, small, 1/8-inch long
  • Dark brown to shiny black
  • Very strong odor when crushed

Behavior

  • Feed on both dead and living insects, favoring aphid and scale honeydew
  • In homes, forage primarily for sweets
  • Travel in both wandering patterns and set trails
  • Trails common along branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards, and edges of carpets
  • When disturbed, become erratic with their abdomens raised in the air

Nest type and size

  • Live in shallow nests in soil under stones, wood, or debris
  • May nest in various habitats including wooded areas, beaches, wall voids, and around water pipes and heaters
  • Large colonies, with up to 10,000 workers and many queens

Bed Bugs

What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals. Certain kinds inhabit bird nests and bat roosts and await the return of their hosts; others have adapted well to living in the ‘nests’ (homes) of people.  They are usually found in bedrooms and they tend to hide in the bed or near the bed in nightstands, behind picture frames and under the mattress.  Their flattened bodies allow them to conceal themselves in cracks and crevices around the room and within furniture  Clutter around the room offers additional sites for these bugs to hide, and increases the difficulty in eliminating bed bugs once they have become established.

Hatchling bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed, and adults are about 1/4 of an inch in length. From above they are oval in shape, but are flattened from top to bottom.  Their color ranges from nearly white (just after molting) or a light tan to a deep brown or burnt orange. The host’s blood may appear as a dark red or black mass within the bug’s body. Because they never develop wings, bed bugs cannot fly.

How do bed bugs invade a home?
Because bed bugs readily hide in small crevices, they may accompany (as stowaways) luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and other such objects when these are moved between apartments, homes and hotels.. One should carefully scrutinize and consider the history of any used furniture as bed frames and mattresses which, are of greatest risk of harboring bed bugs and their eggs

Bees

Nearly everyone has been stung by an insect at one time or another. It is an unpleasant experience that people hope not to repeat, but for most people the damage inflicted is only temporary pain. Only a very limited portion of the population (one to two people out of 1,000) is allergic or hypersensitive to bee or wasp stings.

The stinger is a modified egg-laying apparatus, so only females can sting. Most hymenopterans live solitary lives and their behavior is more likely to be flight than fight. Honey bees, and bumble bees, have individuals in the colony whose task it is to defend the nest. If the nest is disturbed, these individuals will defend it vigorously. In addition, foraging members of the colony will also sting if they are disturbed or injured as they go about their activities.

Avoiding Stings
Bees can be attracted to, or may react to, odors in the environment. It is best not to use perfume, cologne, or scented soaps if you are going into an area of bee activity. Unless someone accidentally collides quite hard with or swats at a bee or wasp, it is not likely to sting. Avoid going barefoot in vegetation, especially clover and blooming ground covers. Also avoid wearing brightly colored or patterned clothing. If you remain calm when a bee or wasp lands on your skin to inspect a smell or to get water if you are sweating heavily, the insect will eventually leave of its own accord. If you don’t want to wait for it to leave, gently and slowly brush it away with a piece of paper. When swimming in pools, watch out for bees trapped on the surface of the water. If you find bees in the water, it is best to remove them to avoid being stung

Stinging incidents often occur when nesting areas of social insects are disturbed. Be observant of the area around you. If you see insects flying to and from a particular place, avoid it. If you are going to be in an area where disturbing a nest is likely, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It might be a good idea to carry a military surplus, collapsible mosquito/gnat veil with you. Stinging insects often fly around the top of their targets. Because stings in the face can be disorienting, put on the veil, or pull a portion of your shirt over your head, and run away. Be sure that you can see where you are going!

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are insects are pests in warehouses, homes, museums, and other locations where suitable food exists. In California, three species of carpet beetles cause serious damage to fabrics, carpets, furs, stored foods, and preserved specimens.

Varied Carpet Beetle
The varied carpet beetle is common in California. Outdoors, female beetles search out spider webs and nests of bees, wasps, and birds in which to lay their eggs. The nests contain dead insects, beeswax, pollen, feathers, or other debris that can serve as larval food. Indoors, beetles deposit eggs on or near wool carpets and rugs, woolen goods, animal skins, furs, stuffed animals, leather book bindings, feathers, animal horns, whalebone, hair, silk, dried plant products, and other materials that can serve as larval food.

Mature larvae are about the same length as adults and are covered with dense tufts of hair that they extend upright to form a round plume if disturbed. They have alternating light and dark brown transverse stripes and are distinguishable from other carpet beetle larvae because they are broader in the rear and narrower in front. Adults usually appear in spring or early summer; indoors, they are often seen near windows.

Furniture Carpet Beetle and Black Carpet Beetle pictured below:

Damage
Carpet beetle adults do not feed on fabrics but seek out pollen and nectar. They are attracted to sunlight and are commonly found feeding outside on the flowers. that produce abundant pollen. Be careful not to bring these pests into the home on cut flowers—with their rounded bodies and short antennae, carpet beetles somewhat resemble lady beetles in shape. Damage is caused by the larval stage of beetles. Larvae feed in dark, undisturbed locations on a variety of dead animals and animal products, such as wool, silk, leather, fur, hair brushes with natural bristles, pet hair, and feathers; They do not feed on synthetic fibers.

Clothing Moths

The webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth are occasional fabric pests in California. Clothes moths are weak flyers and are not attracted to lights. They tend to hide when disturbed, and for this reason, infestations of clothes moths are not usually noticed until damaged fabrics, furs, or feathers are found.

Identification
Close examination of the objects reveals the presence of silken webs that are spun by the larvae. The webbing clothes moth is the most common fabric moth. Adults have golden colored wings. Because the moths are weak flyers and not attracted to lights, they are usually found very close to the infested items, such as in dark areas of closets. Casemaking clothes moths are similar in size and appearance to webbing clothes moths. The wings of the casemaking clothes moth are more brownish than those of the webbing clothes moth and have faint dark-colored spots.

Larvae of both species are nearly identical, except that larvae of the casemaking clothes moth always carry a silken case with them as they feed. They never leave this silken tube, but enlarge it as they grow. They feed from either end and retreat into it when disturbed. This case takes on the coloration of the fabric eaten by the larvae.


Damage

The larva is the damaging stage of the clothes moth. Both species feed on wool clothing, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, furs, stored wool, animal bristles in brushes, wool felts in pianos, and fish meal in fish food. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool. Larvae may use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. Damage generally appears in hidden locations such as under collars or cuffs of clothing, in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in areas of carpeting covered by furniture. Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration, or urine are more subject to damage.

Cockroaches

Common roaches in California that can become pests: German roach, Oriental roach, American roach, and Vega roach.  Of these species, the one that has the greatest potential for becoming persistent and troublesome is the German roach, which prefers indoor locations. Oriental and American roaches occasionally pose problems in moist, humid areas.

German Roach
The German roach is a small species of roach. 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 roach is one of the most common and prominent household roaches 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. This roach 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

Oriental Roach
The oriental roach (also known as: waterbug or sewer roach) is a large species of roach. It is dark brown to black in color and has a glossy body. The female Oriental roach 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 its head. It has a wider body than the male. The male has long wings, which cover a majority of its body and are brown in color, and has a more narrow body. The odd male is capable of very short flights, about 2 to 3 meters.

American RoachThe American roach is the largest species of common roach, 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. 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.

Vega RoachThe Vega roach (also known: field roach) prefers outdoor locations and is usually found in leaf litter and plant debris.  It is usually found outdoors, but sometimes comes indoors when it is hot or dry and is often mistaken for the German roach. Vega roaches are more olive in color than German roaches and they have a black stripe between the eyes.

Problems Associated with Roaches
Roaches may become pests in homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, offices, and virtually in any structure that has food preparation or storage areas. They contaminate food and eating utensils, destroy fabric and paper products, and impart stains and unpleasant odors to surfaces they contact.

People are repulsed when they find roaches in their homes and kitchens. Roaches may transmit bacteria that cause food poisoning (Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp.). German roaches are believed to be capable of transmitting disease-causing organisms such as Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., hepatitis virus, and coliform bacteria. They also have been implicated in the spread of typhoid and dysentery. Indoor infestations of roaches are an important source of allergens and risk for asthma among some populations. The levels of roaches and allergens are directly related to roach density, housing disrepair, and sanitary conditions.

Roaches are nocturnal. They hide in dark, warm areas, especially narrow spaces where surfaces touch them on both sides.  Immature roaches tend to stay in even smaller cracks where they are well protected. Roaches tend to congregate in corners and generally travel along the edges of walls or other surfaces.

Fleas

Cat fleas are frequently encountered in homes and are common pests on domestic cats and dogs. Dog fleas look like cat fleas, but are rare in California. Sticktight fleas can become a problem when pets frequent areas near poultry. Female sticktight fleas firmly attach themselves around the ears and eyes of their host. Fleas on either cats or dogs in California are most likely cat fleas.

Identification Adult fleas are very small insects, so it is difficult to see a number of the characteristics used to describe them. These reddish brown to black, wingless insects are compressed from side to side so that they look like they are walking “on edge.” They have piercing-sucking mouthparts through which they obtain blood meals from their hosts. Flea larvae are tiny, hairy, and wormlike with a distinct, brownish head, but no eyes or legs.

Problems Associated with Fleas
The cat flea is suspected of transmitting murine typhus to humans, but its primary importance is in its annoyance to people and pets. Cat fleas readily try to feed on almost any warm-blooded animal. Some people are bothered by the sensation of fleas walking on their skin, but bites are the major nuisance. Bites tend to be concentrated on the lower legs but can also occur on other parts of the body. The bite consists of a small, central red spot surrounded by a red halo, usually without excessive swelling. Flea bites usually cause minor itching but may become increasingly irritating to people with sensitive or reactive skin.

Some people and pets suffer from flea bite allergic dermatitis, characterized by intense itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, and secondary infection. Just one bite may initiate an allergic reaction, and itching may persist up to 5 days after the bite. Cat fleas may also serve as intermediary hosts of dog tapeworms. Cats or dogs may acquire this intestinal parasite while grooming themselves by ingesting adult fleas that contain a cyst of the tapeworm.

Pantry Pests

Stored-product pests are usually brought into the home in an infested package of food. Often the first indication of the infestation is the appearance of small moths flying about or the presence of beetles in or near the food package.

Identification and Life Cycles
The most common insects infesting food in the home are beetles and moths. Adult moths and adult beetles are easy to distinguish from each other. Both larvae and adults of beetles feed on foodstuffs, whereas only the larval stage of moths consumes stored products.

Meal Moths
The most common species of meal moths found in the home pantry is the Indianmeal moth. All damage is done by the larvae, which attack a wide range of products, including cereal and cereal products, flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, chocolate, candies, and other confections. When infestations are heavy, mature larvae can often be found in parts of the house far from the original food source because they move quite a distance to pupate.

Pantry Beetles
Several species of beetles commonly attack a wide variety of foods: the warehouse beetle, the sawtoothed grain beetle, the merchant grain beetle, the confused flour beetle, the red flour beetle,and the drugstore beetle and the cigarette beetle. Other beetles that feed primarily on seeds or whole grains include the lesser grain borer, the bean weevil, the granary weevil, and the rice weevil.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetle and Merchant Grain Beetle
The sawtoothed grain beetle and the merchant grain beetle are slender, flat, brown beetles. Both beetles have six sawlike tooth projections on each side of the thorax. In both larval and adult stages, these beetles feed on all food of plant origin, especially grain and grain products like flours, meals, breakfast foods, stock and poultry feeds, coconut, nutmeats, candies, and dried fruit; it is not uncommon to find these beetles infesting pet food, bird seed, and rodent bait.

Confused Flour Beetle and Red Flour Beetle
The confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle are very similar in appearance. These beetles have a very wide food range including cereals, damaged grains, grain products, shelled nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, drugs, and herbarium and museum specimens.

Warehouse Beetle
The warehouse beetle feeds on a wide variety of foods including cereals, candy, cocoa, cookies, cornmeal, fish meal, pet foods, flour, nuts, dried peas and beans, pastas, potato chips, spices, dead animals, and dead insects. The setae of this beetle are shed within the infested food product and can be irritating to the mouth, esophagus, and digestive tract if they are ingested; consequently any food found infested with this beetle should be discarded.

Cigarette Beetle and Drugstore Beetle
The cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle closely resemble one another, but the cigarette beetle is more common. The cigarette beetle feeds on cured tobacco, cigarettes, and cigars. It also feeds on dried herbs, spices, nuts, cereals and cereal products, dried fruit, seeds, and animal products such as dried fish and meats, hair, and wool. In the home this beetle is most commonly found in pet foods, cereals, nuts, and candy. It may also infest dried pepper arrangements, wreaths, and spices such as chili powder or paprika.

The drugstore beetle is a very general feeder, attacking a great variety of stored foods, seeds, pet foods, spices, and pastry mixes, and has been said to “eat anything except cast iron.” It gets its name from its habit of feeding on almost all drugs found in pharmacies. In the home, however, the most common food materials infested by this beetle are pet foods, drugs, and cereals.

Damage
Pantry pests damage food by contaminating it with their bodies and their by-products. The larval stage of the Indianmeal moth produces frass and webbing, and some beetle larvae produce secretions that give food a disagreeable odor and taste. Setae (hairs) from the warehouse beetle can irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach of people who eat infested products. In addition, pantry pests might introduce microbes into the food that could produce mycotoxins (highly carcinogenic compounds), especially if the food is stored in warm, humid conditions.

Rodents

Delk Pest Control is one of the few companies in the industry that offers complete rodent control including rodent exclusion.  Rats and mice cause major damage in homes and commercial structures throughout the Valley. They consume and contaminate food, damage structures and transmit diseases to animals and humans. Rodents live and thrive under a wide variety of climates and conditions.

Our goal at Delk Pest Control is to exclude these pests from your home or business. We will install screens, door sweeps, seal roof areas, pipes and all other entry points.  Traps and bait will be used and weekly monitoring will be a part of the service until the infestation is controlled.

Give us a call for free rodent exclusion inspection of your property.

Silverfish and Firebrats

If the pages and bindings of books in your bookcase have been chewed on, suspect the look-alike household pests–silverfish and firebrats.

Description
Silverfish are shiny, silver or pearl gray, and firebrats are shiny, mottled gray. Adults of both are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects.  They have scaly bodies that taper gradually to the rear with two slender antennae in front and three long, thin appendages in back. The presence of scales around or under the damage is a good indication that these pests are the culprits.

Silverfish live and develop in damp, cool places, particularly in basements and laundry rooms. Firebrats thrive best in very warm, moist places. They may be found around ovens, heating units, fireplaces, hot water pipes, the attic in summer, and near the furnace in winter. In apartments and homes, the insects crawl along pipelines and through openings in the walls or floors from basements to rooms above.

Damage
Silverfish and firebrats can be found in any part of the home. Because they are seeking food, they choose bookcases, closets, and places where books, clothing, starch, or sugar foods are available. They hide in baseboards and around window and door frames from which they seek out food sources. Sometimes they are seen in the bathtub or sink. They do not crawl up through the drain, but fall in and cannot climb up the slippery sides to escape.

Large numbers of these insects may invade new homes from surrounding wild areas, especially as these areas dry in summer. They may be brought in on lumber, wallboard, or similar products. Freshly laid cement and green lumber supply humidity, and wallpaper paste provides them with food.

Spiders

Many people fear or dislike spiders but, for the most part, spiders are beneficial because of their role as predators of insects and other arthropods, and most cannot harm people. Spiders that might injure people—for example, black widows—generally spend most of their time hidden under furniture or boxes, or in woodpiles, corners, or crevices. The spiders commonly seen out in the open during the day are unlikely to bite people.

Identification
Spiders resemble insects and sometimes are confused with them, but they are arachnids, not insects. Spiders have eight legs and two body parts—a head region and an abdomen. They lack wings and antennae. Although spiders often are found on plants, they eat mainly insects, other spiders, and related arthropods, not plants. Most spiders have toxic venom, which they use to kill their prey. However, only those spiders whose venom typically causes a serious reaction in humans are called “poisonous” spiders.

Wolf Spider
Wolf Spiders Prey on insects that are walking or resting on the ground. Actively hunt in the open during the day and night, often observed on the ground in litter and on low vegetation. Can occur in burrows and under debris on soil. Instead of spinning webs to catch prey, make a small, thick web where they rest. Have a distinctive pattern of eyes: four small eyes in front in a straight row, one middle pair of larger eyes, and one rear pair of widely spaced eyes on top of the head. They have long hairy legs. They are usually black and white or strongly contrasting light and dark, which can make them difficult to discern unless they are moving. About 200 species in North America.

Garden Spider
Garden Spiders feed on insects that fly, fall, or are blown into web. Elaborate silken webs are spun in concentric circles. Spiderlings often make symmetrical webs; mature spiders may spin a more specialized design that is helpful in identifying certain species. The spider rests at the center of its web or hides in a shelter near the edge, waiting for prey to become entangled. Orb weavers generally have poor vision and rely on web vibrations to locate and identify prey. About 200 species in North America.

Recluse Spider
Recluse spiders include the well-known brown recluse spider, which does not occur in California. While the brown recluse has occasionally been brought into California in household furnishings, firewood, and motor vehicles, it does not reside in the state.
However, populations of another recluse spider, the Chilean recluse spider were found in Los Angeles County in the late 1960s. In its native Chile it is known to have a bite that is toxic to humans. The native recluse spider of California is found in the desert regions of southern California and neighboring states. Its bite can cause problems, but it is not as toxic. Bites from the desert recluse are rare and no bites from the Chilean recluse have ever been recorded in California. Both the native desert recluse spider and the Chilean recluse spider occur principally in the drier areas of southern California.

Longlegged Cellar Spider
These spiders are only marginally capable of biting humans because their fangs are too short to pierce people’s skin; they primarily cause problems by producing messy cobwebs.

Black Widow Spider
The black widow spider, is the most common harmful spider in California. Venom from its bite can cause reactions ranging from mild to painful and serious, but death is very unlikely and many symptoms can be alleviated if medical treatment is obtained. Anyone bitten by this spider should remain calm and promptly seek medical advice; it is helpful if the offending spider can be caught and saved for identification.

The typical adult female black widow has a shiny black body, slender black legs, and a red or orange mark in the shape of an hourglass on the underside of the large, round abdomen. Only the larger immature female and adult female spiders are able to bite through a person’s skin and inject enough venom to cause a painful reaction.

The adult male black widow is one-half to two-thirds the length of the female, has a small abdomen, and is seldom noticed. The male black widow does possess venom, but its fangs are too small to break human skin. The top side of its abdomen is olive-greenish gray with a pattern of cream-colored areas and one light-colored band going lengthwise down the middle. The hourglass mark on the underside of the abdomen typically is yellow or yellow-orange and broad waisted. The legs are banded with alternating light and dark areas.

Contrary to popular belief, the female black widow rarely eats the male after mating but may do so if hungry. Like males, young female black widow spiders are patterned on the top side. In the early stages they greatly resemble males but gradually acquire the typical female coloration with each shedding of the skin. In intermediate stages they have tan or cream-colored, olive-gray, and orange markings on the top side of the abdomen, a yellowish orange hourglass mark on the underside, and banded legs.

Where the Spiders Live
Black widow spiders occur in most parts of California. They and their associated webs usually are found in dark, dry, sheltered, relatively undisturbed places such as among piles of wood, rubbish, or stones; in culverts, hollow stumps, and old animal burrows; in garages, sheds, barns, crawl spaces, utility meter boxes, and outhouses; and sometimes among plants. People are most likely to be bitten when they disturb the spider while they are cleaning out or picking up items in such places. A sensible precaution is to always wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working in areas that have been undisturbed for a time and where there are good hiding places for spiders.

Effects of the Bite
The symptoms of a black widow bite are largely internal; little more than local redness and swelling may develop at the bite site. The internal effects may range from mild to severe. Pain tends to spread from the bite to other parts of the body and muscular spasms may develop. In severe cases the abdominal muscles may become quite rigid. Other effects can include profuse sweating, fever, increased blood pressure, difficulty breathing and speaking, restlessness, and nausea. Typically, the pain and other symptoms reach a maximum within a day of the bite, then gradually subside over the next 2 to 3 days. Black widow bites are fairly common in California.

Orb-Weaving Spiders
These spiders are the builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forests. Their common name is taken from the round shape of this typical web. They are in the same family as many well-known large or brightly colored garden spiders. There are more than 2,800 species worldwide, making this the third largest family of spiders.