Pest Library

Ants
Bed Bugs
Carpenter Ants
Cockroaches
Flies
Termites
Wasps
Rats
Ants

Ants

Ants Habitat
Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. These larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialized groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies are sometimes described as super-organisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems, and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensurable, parasitic, and mutual relationships.

Ant societies have division of labor, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study.

Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication and rituals. Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents. However, their ability to exploit resources brings ants into conflict with humans, as they can damage crops and invade buildings. Some species, such as the red imported fire ant are regarded as invasive species, establishing themselves in areas where they are accidentally introduced.

Pest Control
Some ant species are considered pests, and because of the adaptive nature of ant colonies, eliminating the entire colony is nearly impossible. Pest management is therefore a matter of controlling local populations, instead of eliminating an entire colony, and most attempts at control are temporary solutions.

Ants classified as pests include the pavement ant, yellow crazy ant, sugar ants, the Pharaoh ant, carpenter ants, Argentine ant, odorous house ants, red imported fire ant and European fire ant. Populations are controlled using insecticide baits, either in granule or liquid formulations. Bait is gathered by the ants as food and brought back to the nest where the poison is inadvertently spread to other colony members through trophallaxis.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

With the widespread use of DDT in the 1940's and 1950's, bedbugs mostly disappeared from the developed world in the mid-20th century, though infestations remained common in many other parts of the world. Rebounding populations present a challenge because of developed resistance to various pesticides including DDT, and organophosphates. Bed bug populations in Arkansas have been found to be highly resistant to DDT, with an LD50 of more than 100,000 PPM DDT was seen to make bedbugs more active in studies done in Africa.

Because some bedbug populations have developed a resistance to pyrethroid insecticides, there is growing interest in both synthetic pyrethroid and pyrrole insecticide chlorfenapyr; insect growth regulators such as hydroprene (Gentrol) are sometimes used.

Tests show that the carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bedbugs, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been reluctant to approve such an indoor use because of its potential toxicity to children after chronic exposure.

Pest Control
Bedbug cases have been on the rise across the world since the mid-1990s. Figures from one London borough show reported bedbug infestations doubling each year from 1995 to 2001. There is also evidence of a previous cycle of bedbug infestations in the U.K. in the mid-1980s. The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71% increase in bedbug calls between 2000 and 2005. The Steritech Group, a pest-management company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, claimed that 25% of the 700 hotels they surveyed between 2002 and 2006 needed bedbug treatment. The resurgence led the United States Environmental Protection Agency to hold a National Bed Bug Summit in 2009.

The cause of this resurgence is still uncertain, but it is thought to be related to increased international travel, the use of new pest-control methods that do not affect bedbugs, and increasing pesticide resistance.

One recent theory about bedbug reappearance is that they never truly disappeared from the United States, but may have been forced to alternative hosts. Consistent with this is the finding the bedbug DNA shows no evidence of an evolutionary bottleneck. Furthermore, investigators have found high populations of bed bugs at poultry facilities in Arkansas. Poultry workers at these facilities may be spreading bedbugs, unknowingly carrying them to their places of residence and elsewhere after leaving work.

Blood-fed Cimex lectularius (Note the differences in color with respect to digestion of blood meal)Bedbug pesticide-resistance appears to be increasing dramatically. Bedbug populations sampled across the U.S. showed a tolerance for pyrethroids several thousands of times greater than laboratory bedbugs. New York City bed bugs have been found to be 264 times more resistant to deltamethrin than Florida bedbugs due to nerve cell mutations. Another problem with current insecticide use is that the broad-spectrum insecticide sprays for cockroaches and ants that are no longer used had a collateral impact on bedbug infestations. Recently, a switch has been made to bait insecticides that have proven effective against cockroaches but have allowed bedbugs to escape the indirect treatment.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants Habitat

Carpenter ants are large (.25 to 1 in/0.63 to 2.5 cm) ants indigenous to many parts of the world. They prefer dead, damp wood in which to build nests. They do not eat it, however, unlike termites. Sometimes carpenter ants will hollow out sections of trees. The most likely species to be infesting a house in the United States is the Black carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus. However, there are over a thousand other species in the genus Camponotus.

Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying or hollow wood. They cut "galleries" into the wood grain to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest. Certain parts of a house, such as around and under windows, roof eaves, decks and porches, are more likely to be infested by Carpenter Ants because these areas are most vulnerable to moisture.

Pest Control

Carpenter ants can damage wood used in the construction of buildings. They can leave behind a sawdust-like material behind called frass that provides clues to their nesting location. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and very different from termite-damaged areas, which have mud packed into the hollowed-out areas.

Cockroaches

Roaches

Cockroach

Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattaria. The name derives from the Greek and Latin names for the insect (Doric Greek: βλάττα, blátta; Ionic and Attic Greek: βλάττη, bláttē; Latin: Blatta).

There are about 4,500 species of cockroach, of which 30 species are associated with human habitations and about four species are well known as pests.

Among the best-known pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long, the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, also about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 25 millimetres (0.98 in). Tropical cockroaches are often much bigger, and extinct cockroach relatives and 'roachoids' such as the Carboniferous Archimylacris and the Permian Apthoroblattina were not as large as the biggest modern species.

Pest Control
Cockroaches are one of the most commonly noted household pest insects. They feed on human and pet food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces including those that are potentially dangerous to humans, particularly in environments such as hospitals. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans. One of the proteins that triggers allergic reactions has been identified as tropomyosin. These allergens have also been found to be linked with asthma.

General preventive measures against household pests include keeping all food stored away in sealed containers, using garbage cans with a tight lid, frequent cleaning in the kitchen, and regular vacuuming. Any water leaks, such as dripping taps, should also be repaired. It is also helpful to seal off any entry points, such as holes around baseboards, in between kitchen cabinets, pipes, doors, and windows with some steel wool or copper mesh and some cement, putty or silicone caulk.

Some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. Frequently living outdoors, although preferring warm climates and considered "cold intolerant," they are resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.

Cockroach control, with cockroach baits, boric acid, and hydramethylnon gel.There are numerous parasites and predators of cockroaches, but few of them have proven to be highly effective for biological control of pest species. Wasps in the family Evaniidae are perhaps the most effective insect predators, as they attack the egg cases, and wasps in the family Ampulicidae are predators on adult and nymphal cockroaches (e.g., Ampulex compressa). The house centipede is probably the most effective control agent of cockroaches, though many homeowners find the centipedes themselves objectionable.

Flies

Flies

Flies
True flies are insects of the order Diptera (di = two, and ptera = wings). They possess a pair of wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax.

The presence of a single pair of wings distinguishes true flies from other insects with "fly" in their name, such as mayflies, dragonflies, damselflies, stoneflies, whiteflies, fireflies, alderflies, dobsonflies, snakeflies, sawflies, caddisflies, butterflies or scorpionflies. Some true flies have become secondarily wingless, especially in the superfamily Hippoboscoidea, or among those that are inquilines in social insect colonies.

Diptera is a large order, containing an estimated 240,000 species of mosquitoes, gnats, midges and others, although under half of these (about 120,000 species) have been described.[1] It is one of the major insect orders both in terms of ecological and human (medical and economic) importance. The Diptera, in particular the mosquitoes (Culicidae), are of great importance as disease transmitters, acting as vectors for malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, encephalitis and other infectious diseases.

Additional Information

The female lays her eggs as close to the food source as possible, and development is generally rapid, allowing the larva to consume as much food as possible in a short period of time before transforming into the adult. In extreme cases, the eggs hatch immediately after being laid, while a few flies are ovoviviparous, with the larva hatching inside the mother.

Termites

Termites

Termites
The termites are a group of eusocial insects usually classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera (but see also taxonomy below). Along with ants and some bees and wasps which are all placed in the separate order Hymenoptera, termites divide labour among gender lines, produce overlapping generations and take care of young collectively. Termites mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, and about 10% of the estimated 4,000 species (about 2,600 taxonomically known) are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. Termites are major detritivores, particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of considerable ecological importance.

As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use a decentralised, self-organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence to exploit food sources and environments that could not be available to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.

Termites are sometimes called "white ants", though they are not closely related to true ants.

Pest Control
Due to their wood-eating habits, many termite species can do great damage to unprotected buildings and other wooden structures. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the timbers are severely damaged and exhibit surface changes. Once termites have entered a building, they do not limit themselves to wood; they also damage paper, cloth, carpets, and other cellulosic materials. Particles taken from soft plastics, plaster, rubber, and sealants such as silicone rubber and acrylics are often employed in construction.

Humans have moved many wood-eating species between continents, but have also caused drastic population decline in others through habitat loss and pesticide application.

Wasps

Wasps

Wasps
The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural biocontrol. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.

The various species of wasps fall into one of two main categories: solitary wasps and social wasps. Adult solitary live and operate alone, and most do not construct nests; all adult solitary wasps are fertile. By contrast, social wasps exist in colonies numbering up to several thousand strong and build nests—but in some cases not all of the colony can reproduce. In the more advanced species, just the wasp queen and male wasps can mate, whilst the majority of the colony is made up of sterile female workers.

Nesting Habits
The type of nest produced by wasps can depend on the species and location. Many social wasps produce paper pulp nests on trees, in attics, holes in the ground or other such sheltered areas with access to the outdoors. By contrast solitary wasps are generally parasitic or predatory and only the latter build nests at all. Unlike honey bees, wasps have no wax producing glands. Many instead create a paper-like substance primarily from wood pulp. Wood fibers are gathered locally from weathered wood, softened by chewing and mixing with saliva. The pulp is then used to make combs with cells for brood rearing. More commonly, nests are simply burrows excavated in a substrate (usually the soil, but also plant stems), or, if constructed, they are constructed from mud.

Rats

Rats

Rats
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Many members of other rodent genera and families are also referred to as rats, and share many characteristics with true rats.

Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size; rats are generally large muroid rodents, while mice are generally small muroid rodents. The muroid family is very large and complex, and the common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. Generally, when someone discovers a large muroid, its common name includes the term rat, while if it is small, the name includes the term mouse. Scientifically, the terms are not confined to members of the Rattus and Mus genera, for example, the pack rat and cotton mouse.

The best-known rat species are the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1 lb) in the wild.