Ants, Crickets, Spiders, Earwigs, Pillbugs, Flies, Cockroaches
Ants, Cockroaches, Snails, Slugs
There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world. Ants range in color from red to black, and they can range in size from one-quarter inch for a worker carpenter ant to three-quarters of an inch for a queen carpenter ant. Although ants are frustrating when they get in homes, ants do help the environment. They help control the population of damaging pests such as termites. Types of ants include fire ants, which cause a painful sting, and carpenter ants, which damage wood structures while nest building.
Fleas make their homes on animals. They can be found on humans, cats, dogs, opossums, rats and other rodents. They can sense an animal's body heat, movement and breathe. This helps them to find places to live and breed. Typically, fleas can live for about 100 days. Under perfect conditions, a pair of fleas could have more than 20 trillion babies in one year. They are known to have incredibly jumping power; they can jump up to 150 times the length of their body.
Cockroaches are one of the oldest insects. Cockroaches have wings, six legs, and two antennae. A cockroach likes to eat sweet and floury foods and hang out in dark, wet places. A cockroach can survive a month or more without food, but less than two weeks without water. There are two species of cockroach in the United States: the American cockroach and the German cockroach. The American cockroach has reddish-brown wings and light mark. It can grow to be 1.5 inches long. The German cockroach is between one-half and five-eighths inches long and is light brown with two dark stripes down its back. Cockroaches are pests that have been known to carry lots of dangerous germs. They crawl through dirty areas and then walk around our homes tracking in lots of bacteria.
When you see one cockroach, you can be pretty sure that there are many more out of sight. When these insects shed their skins, die, or leave droppings, those remains are called cockroach allergens. Researchers recently discovered that cockroach allergens can cause asthma attacks in children.
Rodents, mostly deer mice and packrats, can spread the very dangerous Hantavirus. The full name of this disease is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which is a big name for a very scary, but rare illness spread by small pests. About a third of the people who caught Hantavirus have died. However this is a rare disease, with only 318 known cases between 1993 and 2002. Most cases have been in Southwestern states. The urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents contain this virus. Humans can catch the illness if they breathe in particles of the droppings, saliva, or urine that are in the air. They can also catch Hantavirus if they touch or are bitten by infected animals.
Rats are also responsible for spreading Bubonic plague, also known as the "Black Death." Although fleas are responsible for infecting humans, — they get it from the rats!
Ticks are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than insects. Like a spider, a tick has one main body section; while, an insect has three separate body sections. There are two main types of ticks: hard and soft. Hard ticks are most commonly found in the woods and on pets. Soft ticks have tough, leathery skin with no apparent head. They can be found in caves, cabins and on birds.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of infected deer ticks. Symptoms include a distinctive "bull's-eye" shaped rash, fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and joint aches. About 15,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the United States every year.
Bees are very social animals. They live in colonies with clear divisions between royalty, the queen bee, and worker bees. There are many different types of bees with very distinguishing characteristics. Honey bees build combs and store honey for winter hibernation.
The Africanized honeybee—also known as the "killer bee"—lives in South America and the southern United States. It looks so much like a regular honeybee that the only way to tell the two apart is by measuring their bodies. Africanized bees have different wing measurements than honeybees. These pests are more aggressive than their honeybee relatives. They defend their colonies and attack when threatened. Their venom is no more dangerous than regular honeybees—they just tend to attack in greater numbers which causes more danger to humans.
With over 35,000 species of spiders, surveys indicate that this pest is one of the two most feared creatures by humans (the other is the snake). Spiders occur worldwide and can be found in every state. Ranging in size from the extremely small house spiders to the enormous tropical spiders, this pest can turn up in many strange locations. Although many spiders live in houses, other species will live wherever food can be found. Some species of spiders include tarantulas, jumping spiders, wolf spiders, ground spiders, house spiders and crab spiders. The most dangerous species to humans are the widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, hobo spiders and two species of sac spiders.
There are about 170 different kinds of mosquitoes in North America. These pests are part of the same family as house flies and fruit flies. They breed in dirty, standing water.
We usually say that we've been bitten by a mosquito, but this isn't completely true. Mosquitoes don't bite - female mosquitoes suck our blood. Male mosquitoes feed on plant nectars. Recently, mosquitoes have been getting lots of attention because they can spread a dangerous virus called West Nile.