Pests are not always inherently pests. Insects have both beneficial and unbeneficial aspects to them. Certain species actually eat other unwanted pest species, while others can decimate crops or invade your home to biblical levels. As is with everything in life, there are two sides to a coin and exceptions to a rule.
That said, most insects found inside a home or business are inherently seen as pests. They can damage properly, harm the residents, and even hurt resale value. These are all considerations taken into account when dealing with an invasive insect species inside a dwelling, but inherently at the end of the day… bugs just bug people.
Pro’s & Con’s
Now you are probably thinking “Why would an insect blog talk pro’s/con’s of insects… aren’t they all bad?”. As with all species on this planet, insects play a vital role in many aspects to the health of entire ecosystems. We live, and benefit off of such ecosystems. So inherently to some degree we are dependent of insects. Some ecosystem’s would entirely collapse without insect populations. Now that doesn’t mean you need to go all “Save the insects” for the creepy crawlies in your home. It is just important to understand the importance of insects. The better you understand something, the better you are equipped in managing it appropriately.
Mismanagement of treatment of pests inside a home or even for a large area can have disastrous and often unseen consequences. Depending on the species of insect, misusing or mistreating in a residence for pests can actually have the opposite effect for the particular nuisance species of bug in question. If you don’t understand the biology of the pest, life cycles, and characteristics then you may actually cause the household or residence to experience more of a problem then they originally had.
Even on a larger scale there are examples of how it is best to understand insects and their importance, as well as utilizing safe and informed practices in pest control. For example in the early 1950’s widespread use of powerful DDT agents sprayed haphazardly over large townships and cities without any control or thought led to many ecological disruptions and health hazards for an entire generation. We have learned since then to use safe pest control agents, and have also taken notes from natural chemicals used in nature to combat unwanted pests. To think that a chemical agent used back then could decimate populations of entire species of birds would have been unthinkable back then, but now we know better. America almost lost the Bald Eagle, a symbol for this country and a symbol for freedom due to uncareful regulation of pest control agents.
Thankfully in the United States we have learned from past mistakes. Today laws, regulations, and safety standards are implemented on National and by State level to ensure that pest control companies are utilizing safe and responsible treatment protocols for your home or business. The best companies often taking a personal initiative to educating themselves, and their customers so pest can be safely eliminated from the home.
Household pests don’t normally make a point of properly introducing themselves before moving in. Like most problematic and unwanted houseguests; Stepmothers notwithstanding; the more they make their intrusive presence known, the more they bug you. [Pun absolutely intended]
The real issue here is those pests which make a habit of having their presence remain unknown. Realistically most insects go out of their way to stay out of the way. In a world where everything is bigger than you and out to eat you, that seems like the logical course of action. This line of reasoning remains true inside your home as much as in the outside world. Many a critter in a home will go out of the way to stay out of sight. Many insects avoid light, sense vibrations to alert them, and remain active at night to avoid such encounters. These factors help ensure that it’s the pests that you don’t see which cause the biggest issues for homeowners.
Termites, fire ants, and a plethora of venomous bugs are all cases of common household pest species that you’d probably wish you had known were present earlier, rather than any unpleasant encounters later. Termites cause home damage, fire ants can harm small pets, and venomous bugs can be a threat to yourself as well as children.
Be proactive anytime you have the unhappy encounter of coming across a problematic pest inside your home. Once you know there is a problem, then you can treat that problem. The steps of identification, assessment, and proper treatment are a homeowner’s best tools. These steps are also a pest control technician‘s mantra.
I know many of you, myself included, do not have the time to deal with or even properly treat for many household pests. You have to be on top of it, buy dangerous chemicals, and then find the time after what I assume was a hectic workday to then actually treat the home. It’s honestly a bit of a hassle and generally more expensive to do on your own then if you hire a professional. The nice thing about professional pest control services is that even if you’re calling for an initial pest problem, the continued services become preventative treatments ensuring any future home invasions. It’s guaranteed, safe, and effective. That over-the-counter bug bomb in comparison to that? Maybe not so much.
Don’t hide from your pest problem. Seek it out! If you don’t I can almost guarantee there’s a few creepy crawlies winning at a game you may not be playing, but are definitely losing at.
Fleas transmit Bubonic Plague, you avoid Yosemite National Park. It’s a bit of a one sided relationship.
Fleas are a parasitic species that pierce the skin of warm blooded hosts, and use blood as a requirement to reproduce for their life cycle. They are flightless, amazing jumpers, and you are not likely to see them due to their minute size (<4mm long). Fleas are also exceptionally hardy and are not crushed easily. The biggest sign of this pest is the telltale itch and bite. Much like a mosquito bite, flea bites generally have one bite made in the center. The reaction from the body is also similar with a raised irritated bump at the site of the bite.
Many flea species can live for up to 3 months, and one female depending on the species can produce upwards of 5000 eggs in her lifetime. There is a reason that fleas produce an aversion in almost every media representation. Historically fleas are hard to treat for because of how their populations can explosively grow/spread in a home, in a neighborhood, and in a city. The best basis for this aversion besides the general annoyance of having fleas is that of disease. Fleas of rodents species such as the oriental rat can carry the bacterium yersinia pestis, aka the Plague.
Many children are taught about the European Black Death in primary school; otherwise known as the Bubonic Plague. Of a span of less than 10 years in the 14th century, upwards of 200 million people died in a European outbreak of the disease. This estimate does not include other outbreaks around the same time both in China and the Middle East, which were both in the millions as well. 200 million people. That number is around the entire population of the United States in 1960’s alone, and only about 100 million less than the country’s current population. The crazy thing being that most of modern antibiotics which can be used to successfully treat plague victims, are a recent occurrence as of the 1970’s and onwards.
You might wonder how the Europeans almost 670 years ago in the middle ages combatted such a scourge, especially after losing upwards of 60% of their entire population.
In the 14th century modern antibiotics did not exist. A combination of self-quarantine, reduction of travel, and the disease killing a critical portion of both rat and human populations are all theories as to why the disease declined. This outbreak could have been subdued through pest control. The best course of action would have been extermination and removal of rats whose population had grown to large proportions in the crowded and unsanitary congested cities of 14th century Europe. Once rats are taken out of the equation, the fleas that carry the bacteria which cause the plague are also removed.
Now the bubonic plague is an outbreak of the past, however cases are reported in the U.S. on a yearly basis. The fleas that carry the plague bacterium still exist and are present in nature. The main reason you no longer see such cases in cities is due to pest control of rodents and modern sanitation practices. So the cases that do occur are generally outdoors. For instance, recently you may have heard of the little girl that contracted the bubonic plague in Yosemite last year. She had encountered a dead chipmunk, was bitten by the fleas still on it, and contracted the plague. Squirrels and chipmunks are actually rodents. Most of modern cases these days for the plague follow around these lines, people encountering wild animals that should best be left alone.
Fleas are a great lesson in the worth and importance of modern pest control practices. You wouldn’t think controlling rodents could save the world, but a bite from a flea could prove you wrong.
Cockroaches. A pest of many names, all felt with the same levels of contempt.
Cockroaches can be considered a bit of a social insect. Not as intensely as those of the bees, termites, and ants. Still when you see one, you generally see many more very soon after that. This is because many cockroach species; of which there are many; use chemical signal markers when they encounter food so that others can find it too. It’s called aggregation.
It’s very similar to when a 16 year old decides to post on Facebook about a party they are throwing when the parents are gone. All of a sudden SWAT has shut down the street, and that teenager is hiding in a closet with an expensive vase as men in riot gear start crowd control procedures. Cockroaches like teenagers will aggregate around signals which others have sent out that indicate food is present (And or alcohol).
Cockroaches will eat almost anything. If it’s edible. It’s fair game. Again….kind of like teenagers.
If you see them during the day, pray to your multidenominational deity of choice.
Cockroaches are nocturnal. If you more than one during the day, then you may have an explosive population boom going on in your place. The rule of thumb is one cockroach means a lot. You see a few at the same time? And it’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon? Forget about it. Take the children, and never come back.
Kidding. I am only kidding.
Best course of action? Call a pest control company. Not just some dinky “I’ll come treat one time and that should do it” pest control company. An actual company who has service plans and protocols just for the treatment of your cockroach species. Each species of cockroach that is considered a pest, generally has different life cycles and reproduction rates. It’s important to treat for the individual cockroach species that is being encountered in your home; preferably before it reaches biblical plague levels.
There are many cockroach species that are household pests. The more common American Cockroach, the bit more pesky Oriental cockroach, and the nightmare scenario….the German cockroach. The German cockroach is one of those pest species that absolutely loves hitting that explosive population boom in your home. Generally it is not your fault. You usually have German cockroach problems in apartment complexes, and it can be in the cleanest apartment in America. No amount of cleanliness matters if your neighbors are slobs.
A wonderfully horrible personal experience of mine with German cockroaches was a few years ago. I am a self-admitted clean freak. We are talking Water-spots-in-kitchen-sinks-bothers-me kind of levels. We had seen a few random small looking brown roaches during the day and our complex sprayed after we mentioned seeing them; a personal victory by itself if you have ever had to deal with getting apartment complexes to do absolutely anything.
We had thought the problem dealt with. One night after that I had gotten up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. I switched on the light in the kitchen. The floor, the literal floor parted like the red sea. I felt like moses, except if Moses peed himself a little and then crawled back in bed to stare at the ceiling in mute abject terror until the sun rose, and he was “safe” again.
A literal moving carpet of German cockroaches.
My place was clean. The neighbors upstairs numbering about 8 people in a two bedroom apartment upstairs were not clean. It is not an uncommon story at all. Unfortunately, this is when you have to go out of your way and hire a pest control company to treat your place. This bill is is usually on top of the obviously sub-standard pest control company you are already forcibly paying for through your apartment complex.
I mentioned contempt earlier. Hopefully you never have the same experience. My suggestion for you is to be proactive as soon as you encounter a roach. I know they are just living out their lives and grabbing opportunity by the feelers when they sense it. The proverbial American roach dream. Just not in my home.
Centipedes are a nocturnal species that use venom to capture prey. There are a few species of Centipede which can infest homes, but normally most species can be found just as happily outdoors. It is when they are indoors that the unhappy part comes along for homeowners.
In the South the most common centipede pest species is that of the house centipede. The most apt description is that of a many legged beast, which is lighting fast , and looks like it emerged from the ninth circle of Hades. The house centipede moves fast when it needs to, and is a record holder in speed for it’s size. Generally when you see one it is an unpleasant experience. These are nocturnal insects and people usually unearth and or encounter them during the day. In such occurrences it’s confused and you are most likely screaming passages from the bible. All in all a pretty stressful situation, not even counting the fact that centipedes are venomous.
Here is the good news.
Most centipede species you may encounter in your home are generally too small for their pincers to pierce human skin and inject venom. Even if stung the amount of venom if injected is usually too small to have any fatalities come about from it. The most likely scenario is a bee sting type of pain and localized swelling if bitten; assuming an allergic reaction does not occur. As always suggested with small pets and children in the home, it’s best to be on the side of caution with such things.
If they are present centipede species can be found anywhere in the home where it is dark and damp. One problem with such species as the House Centipede for example is that they are excellent hunters of smaller insect species_ This may sound like a good thing until you know that in the pest industry such insects Pike the House Centipede are generally a great indicator for an overall larger insect presence in your home. Centipedes are insectivores, meaning they eat mainly other insects. If you are seeing centipedes in your home, that is most likely because their main food source (other bugs) is good enough in your home versus just staying outside for a meal. imagine if that’s the bug you are seeing, it’s only there because of all the ones you aren’t seeing.
Knowledgeable pest control companies know that their product will be treating for an overall pest problem in the home if there are centipedes present in the house. Just because they are considered a pest, does not mean they cannot be used as a useful tool in recognizing the proper way to treat a home for other pests.
Now you are probably wondering where I was going with that catchy introductory sentence’? Centipedes have an odd number of leg pairs, meaning they can never have a exactly 100 legs. Centi means 100, and pedes means feet in Latin. So the name centipede is translated in latin as one hundred feet. If they can’t have one hundred legs, then they can’t have one hundred feet. The lie is in the name. The really crazy part is for some species of centipede, that they can have upwards of over 300 legs Now that is a centipede I would not want to encounter in my bathroom at night.
Black Widow Spider. A species of spider well known for their large black body with a red hour glass, long black legs, and venomous bite.
The Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans)
The Black Widow Spider has a neurotoxin called Latrotoxin which they use on prey for hunting, defense, and mating purposes (feel sorry for the spider fellas). The male Black Widow is generally too small to inject enough of the neurotoxin into humans. The female however is the one responsible for the bites dangerous to humans, although most Black Widow bites reported are generally non -fatal to humans. However bites to children and elderly should of course be taken to be seen by a medical professional who may advise an anti-venom treatment.
Black Widow species are notorious for placing there webs in the corners of garages near the door as well as around the exterior of houses low to the ground. A tell-tale sign of a web being that of a Black Widow is the strength of that web. Black Widows have very strong webs, which provide resistance and may not break at first with a cursory spray of a hose as most spider webs do.
The Black Widow Spider Is No Joke
Black Widows are a serious and dangerous household pest. Immediate treatment around the exterior of the home as well as the interior of garages is advisable. Special care should be taken if you have children or small pets in the presence of any species of Black Widow, not just our unfriendly southern neighborhood type we have here in the south.
Now I know what you are saying to yourself “Why don’t I just buy some bug spray at my local store?”
Many over the counter products are heavily diluted and the effectiveness of it depends on how long it has been sitting on that shelf (probably a while).
I am all for DIY projects, but I can’t tell you how many times I have seen unopened bottles of pest spray products sitting around unused. On top of that most people don’t have the time to be as consistent with the treatment sprays as they should be. This usually makes such self-treatment of a home completely ineffective and all it does at best is push the insects into different parts of your home where you weren’t seeing them before. So basically chasing your tail over a week’s time from room to room as they continue to breed and reproduce.
To top it all off you just spent a lot of money on bug spray that probably could have just covered your first home treatment by someone whose livelihood is dependent on your home being pest free. I don’t know about you but I’d rather pay for the peace of mind that a professional service gives you, plus any pest control company worth it’s salt has a satisfaction guarantee. In fact if that isn’t advertised then it’s a red flag. You are going to experience sudden population booms in your home over the course of a year in between regularly scheduled treatments. This happens during Spring and Summer, the birds and the bees as they say. It’s natural.
A good company will understand that and fit you into a schedule and come out between your regular service times to nip those guys in the bud before it becomes a problem and the life cycle of the pest in your home can even get a footing. What’s in the best interest for you as a client is generally the best interest for a pest control company. So a company without a service guarantee is somewhat shady in my opinion because that’s says to me they understand that these things happen and they won’t bother coming out. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?