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Get To Know Your Pests

Here is a brief display of some of the most common household pests. If you have noticed any of these around your home or business, then please call, as some of these can be very dangerous to you and your loved ones.  


Black Widow Spider

This sinister creature posseses venom 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake. Due to the great geographical range of the black widow, the highest number of deaths world-wide are caused by members of their genus. The Black Widow Spider can inflict a painful bite which can be fatal, especially to the young and elderly. An effective anti-venom was developed in 1956. Only a small amount of venom can cause serious illness, as the poison attacks the nervous system. Systemic envenomisation usually results in headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, pyrexia and hypertension. The pain around the bite area can be excruciating. This spider can be found most commonly in woodpiles, rubble piles, under stones, in hollow stumps, sheds, garages and childrens' outdoor toys and play equipment. Indoors it can be found in undisturbed, cluttered areas in basements and crawl spaces. If bitten, first aid and medical attention should be sought immediately. If you have a heart condition or other heart problem, you may need hospitalization. 

Jumping Spider

The jumping spider is widespread across most of the United States, in parts of southern Canada and into Mexico. They are called jumping spiders because they make sudden leaps or jumps onto their prey. They can leap 10 to 40 times their body length.The jumping spider is an active predator, usually hunting during daylight. Most jumping spiders feed on insects, while others feed primarily on web-building spiders. 

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Orb Spider

The bite of Orb-Weaving Spiders is of low risk (not toxic) to humans. They are a non-aggressive group of spiders and seldom bite. Be careful not to walk into their webs at night - the fright of this spider crawling over one's face can be terrifying and may cause a heart attack, particularly to the susceptible over 40 year olds.

Sac Spider

Sac spiders construct a silken tube or sac in a protected area, such as within a leaf, under landscape timbers or logs, or at the junction of a wall and ceiling, and they use this sac as their daytime retreat. This is how the spider derives its common name, sac spider. These spiders do not build webs. Sac spiders are active hunters, emerging at twilight from their silken sac to seek out prey. Control of sac spiders is best achieved by following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that involves multiple tactics, such as preventive measures, exclusion, sanitation, and chemicals applied to targeted sites. 

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Wolf Spider

So called due to their ability to run down their prey, wolf spiders depend on their eyesight to hunt. Their sense of touch is acute. A bite may cause some itching to a human and may be very painful, but is not considered serious of fatal. The bite of the Wolf Spider is poisonous but not lethal. Although non-aggressive, they bite freely if provoked and should be considered dangerous to humans. First aid and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible, particularly as to children or the elderly. 

The Wolf Spider has a roving nocturnal lifestyle to hunt their prey and can move very rapidly when disturbed. It is commonly found around the home in plain sight or in common places such as closets or under appliances.

Carpenter Ant

Most Carpenter Ant species establish their initial nest in decayed wood, but, once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood and can do considerable damage to a structure. Carpenter Ants typically have a parent colony in outside nesting areas, such as live or dead trees, stumps, logs or decorative landscape wood. When the colony grows larger and needs room to expand satellite colonies are established. These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warm protection. Only the parent colony contains the queen(s), young larvae and workers, while the satellite contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductives. Ants move back and forth from parent nest to satellite nest but just a few ( less than 10 % ) will be visible foraging for food.

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Odorous House Ant

This pest is often found foraging for food in long trails over household surfaces and can contaminate food products. Although these ants do not bite or sting, they are a persistent nuisance pest once they begin foraging indoors in large numbers. Odorous house ants are very opportunistic and can nest in many different places both indoors and out. Outdoors, odorous house ant nests are usually shallow and may be found just underneath the soil surface. These nests may be found in mulch, soil, debris, logs, stumps, under stones and under plastic outdoor tarps. Indoors, nests are usually found in wall voids, around hot-water pipes and heaters, behind paneling, under carpets or beneath the floor.


Springtails are very small pale brown to cream colored insects that seem to hop and disappear when disturbed. Springtails are commonly found in moist or damp places, usually in contact with soil. Homeowners encounter them in damp basements and on the surface of the soil of household plants. The moist, organic soil of house plants provides them the proper environment to live and increase in numbers. Plants that are over-watered during the fall and winter can support a large population of springtails in the potting soil. 

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Brown Recluse Spider

Brown recluse bites produce severe dermonecrotic lesions and severe systemic symptoms, including organ damage and even fatalities. Bites have been known to form a necrotizing ulcer that destroys soft tissue and may take months to heal, leaving deep scars. The damaged tissue will become gangrenous and eventually slough away.

Garden Spider

This spider is a web-weaver usually found during the summer in garden areas around the home. It is considered beneficial as it spins a large web to snare flying insects, such as flies and mosquitoes.

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Ticks are small insects often found on deer and domestic animals including livestock. They are most abundant in the early spring and summer. They “embed” or attach themselves to the skin and feed on their hosts' blood. Because of their small size, they are often not noticed until they have already become embedded, which can be painful. They usually wait in low-lying vegetation or grass and grab onto passing animals or people.

Ticks have been found in the Sierra Nevada foothills with Lyme disease. When recreating in grassy or bushy areas, you should frequently check the outside of your clothing for ticks. Long pants and store bought repellents can also reduce the likelihood of a tick becoming attached to you. After a hike, check yourself carefully all over, as well as the hair of your pets as ticks may “wander” around before settling onto them.


Workers represent the majority of the colony population and are responsible for caring for eggs, constructing and maintaining tunnels, foraging for food and feeding and grooming of other caste members. They are white and soft bodied. Soldiers are responsible for defending the colony. They are white, soft bodied with an enlarged, hardened head containing two large jaws, or mandibles, which are used as a weapon against predators. Termites eat cellulose for nutrition. Cellulose is found in wood and wood products.

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Swarming Termites

These are the subterranean termite swarmers. The swarmers are new termite kings and queens that must leave their parent colony in order to mate and establish new colonies of their own. The termite swarmers pair up during their flight then land and search for a place to begin a family. Their wings break off shortly after landing and the new king and queen start their colony by excavating a small chamber in a crevice or plot of soft soil. When the chamber is large enough, they crawl inside, seal the opening and mate. From this point on, they will spend the rest of their lives underground. The queen lays her first batch of (6-12) eggs within a few days or weeks of mating.

American Cockroach

Adult American cockroaches have wings and will occasionally fly. However, they are awkward fliers and prefer to run when disturbed. American cockroaches usually live in moist, humid environments but can survive in dry areas if they have access to water. Several bacteria commonly associated with American cockroaches are known to cause food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea in humans.

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German Cockroach

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. This cockroach is also smaller than many other species so it can more easily hide and fit into very small cracks and crevices to evade humans. They may eat household items such as soap, glue and toothpaste or they may even turn cannibalistic, often chewing on the wings and legs of each other.

Oriental Cockroach (Waterbug)

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. 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 larvae.

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Camelback Cricket

Camelback crickets are of little economic importance except as a nuisance in buildings and homes, especially basements. They are usually "accidental invaders" that wander in by mistake from adjacent areas. They generally do not reproduce indoors, except in situations that provide continuous dark, moist conditions as well as organic debris to serve as food. Although they appear intimidating, they are basically harmless to humans. They may cause minor damage to stored items, but are easily discouraged by eliminating the dark damp habitat they prefer.

House Cricket

Crickets have been a common sight or sound around homes and buildings. While an occasional cricket in and around the home may not be a big problem, in some cases the population is large enough where control is needed. House crickets usually live outdoors during the summer but move into buildings as fall approaches. They can lay eggs indoors in crevices and in other dark places.

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Some species of centipedes can be hazardous to humans because of their bite. Although a bite to an adult human may only be painful, those with allergies that are similar to that of bee stings and small children are at greater risk. Smaller centipedes usually do not puncture human skin. Centipedes are an exclusively predatory taxon. They are known as generalist predators which means that they have adapted to eat a variety of different available prey items. Centipedes are also known to be nocturnal.


Sowbugs and pillbugs, sometimes called "woodlice," live outdoors, but they may occasionally enter homes in damp areas such as basements, first floor levels and garages. These creatures are a nuisance by their presence; they do not bite humans nor damage structures or household possessions. However, if present in large numbers, they can feed on young plants in greenhouses. Some may crawl into swimming pools and drown, causing complaints. Those that wander into homes usually die in a few days unless they find a moist place near a leaky pipe or in a damp basement, bathroom or laundry room. 

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The favorite food of silverfish is any matter that contains starch or polysaccharides, such as dextrin in adhesives. These include glue, book bindings, paper, photos, sugar, hair, and dandruff. Silverfish can also cause damage to books, tapestries, and textiles. Silverfish will commonly graze in and around showers, baths, and sinks on the cellulose present in many shampoos, shaving foams and so on. Other substances that may be eaten include cotton, linen, silk and synthetic fibers, and dead insects.

Japanese Beetle

It is a weak flyer and drops several centimeters when it hits a wall. Japanese beetle traps therefore consist of a pair of crossed walls with a bag underneath, and are baited with floral scent, pheromone, or both. These insects damage plants by eating the surface material, leaving the veins in place, producing a curious, but alarming to the experienced gardener, "transparent leaf" effect on its victims.

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Ground Beetle

Although there is some variation in their body shape and coloring, most are shiny black or metallic and have ridged wing covers. Ground beetles are often found in houses in the spring. They may crawl around basements or ground floor rooms or fly to bright lights. Ground beetles are beneficial insects and an important part of the natural animal population in turf, pasture, and crop land. Some ground beetles are an important natural control of some insect pests of corn. 

House Mouse

The House Mouse is a small mammal and a rodent. In most parts of the world, they live in close proximity to humans. Mice are mostly active during dusk or night; they do not like bright lights. They live in a wide variety of hidden places that are near food sources and construct nests from various soft materials. Mice are territorial and one dominant male usually lives together with several females and young. 

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Norway Rat

One of the best known and most common rats is the Norway Rat. Rats have acute hearing, are sensitive to ultrasound, and possess a very highly developed olfactory sense. The Brown Rat is usually active at night and is a good swimmer, both on the surface and underwater, but unlike the related Black rat (Rattus rattus) they are poor climbers. Rats carry some diseases, including Weil's disease, rat bite fever, cryptosporidiosis, Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), Q fever and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bees are large, hairy bees distributed worldwide. In several species, the females live in tunnels 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. 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 bees do have a stinger, but are not aggressive, and will not sting unless directly provoked.

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Cicada Killer

Cicada killer wasps are large, solitary, ground dwelling, predatory wasps. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them, after stinging and paralyzing them. In the latter half of July, when the sound of the cicada fills the air, the Cicada Killer is often seen flying around deciduous trees from which the songs emanate. They disappear in the branches, and many times the cicada's song turns to an abrupt screech of horror as the wasp lances it with a paralyzing sting.

Yellow Jacket

Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger with small barbs and typically sting repeatedly, though occasionally the sting becomes lodged and pulls free of the wasp's body; the venom, like most bee/wasp venoms, is primarily only dangerous to those who are allergic, unless a victim receives a large number of stings.

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Drain Fly

Drain flies sometimes appear suddenly and mysteriously, becoming a nuisance in both homes and sewage disposal plants. Adult flies may become so numerous indoors that they congregate at windows, darken lamp shades at night, fall into food and accumulate around showers, bathtubs, sinks and floor drains, especially in the basement. Drain flies reproduce in polluted, shallow water or highly moist organic solids. The eggs, larvae and pupae can be found in the muck, slime, or gelatinous film often accumulating on the sides of drains and overflow pipes in homes, or in sewage disposal beds, septic tanks and moist compost. Often the most effective method is to clean the drain pipes and traps to eliminate the gelatinous rotting, organic matter, thereby eliminating the larval food source.

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies commonly develop in overripe or decaying fruit and vegetable matter. They are minute, light brown flies with orange-red eyes and rarely are they found very far from the fruit bowl. Numbers tend to build in late summer. If conditions are suitable and food is present, they may breed indoors.

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The bedbug is a very small nocturnal insect that lives by feeding on human blood or other warm blooded hosts. Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, flattened, oval, and wingless, with microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye. Bedbugs are generally active just before dawn, with a peak feeding period about an hour before sunrise.

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