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General Pests

House Crickets

Size

7/8 in.

Color

Light brown or yellowish-brown.

Body Structure

Striped head with long slender antennae, thorax and abdomen featuring 2 sets of wings, which are held flat against the body.

While posing more of a nuisance than a threat to humans, house crickets are omnivorous scavengers that feed on almost anything and are known to cause damage to clothing, silks and vegetables/fruits. Common to the Southeastern United States, house crickets are characterized by their loud nocturnal chirping, which can cause sleep disruption in humans.

Characteristics

House crickets’ characteristic chirping is produced by the male cricket rubbing its forewings together to attract female crickets during mating. Crickets often produce up to 2 generations of offspring each year, laying anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs at a time. House crickets mature in about 90 days with the total life cycle spanning about 2-3 months.

Habitat/Behavior

House crickets are generally nocturnal scavengers. In the wild, crickets can be found under rocks or logs where the omnivorous insects eat everything from plant materials to detritus. When making their way indoors, house crickets often feed on anything from clothing and paper to fruits and vegetables and will make themselves at home in clutter.

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Earwigs

Size

1/4 to 1 in.

Color

Brown to brown-black.

Body Structure

Head with antennae, thorax, and abdomen with pincers on the end.

Characteristics

Females will deposit eggs in a shallow burrow, usually around flower beds or other damp areas, in the spring. Females will tend to their eggs and will continue to feed nymphs, which resemble smaller versions of adults, after hatching. Nymphs leave the burrow once they are capable of searching for food.

While more of a nuisance than a threat, earwigs are still an unwelcome home invader. Common to the Southeastern Statets, earwigs are typically found outdoors, under rocks or around flower beds. Their characteristic, menacing-looking pincers are only used for catching prey and for defense against other predators.

Habitat/Behavior

Earwigs tend to hide in cracks and damp areas and largely are active at night. They are, however, drawn to bright light. While they typically reside outdoors, feeding on other insects and plant materials, they occasionally will make their way indoors if food is scarce or if weather turns cold. Earwigs, when indoors, will make themselves at home wherever there are damp and dark conditions. While not known to bite, they do release a foul-smelling scent.

Commonly Active

Spring to fall, but can be active year-round indoors.

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Silverfish

Size

1/2 to 1 in.

Color

Silver-gray

Body Structure

Triangular body with three prominent tines on its posterior and two antennae coming from the head

Although they are not vector pests that spread disease, silverfish are difficult to eradicate once they have invaded a home because of their elusive nature and prolific reproduction habits.

Characteristics

Silverfish lay their eggs in groups of two or three in cracks and crevices. Eggs are initially soft and white but harden to a yellow texture after a few hours. After 40 days, eggs hatch, releasing fully-formed nymphs, which resemble adults yet are smaller in size and are grayish-white in color. Before reaching maturity, a silverfish will molt 6 times. Adults molt 60-70 times during their lifetime.

Habitat/Behavior

Silverfish live in damp, dark areas and prefer moist basements and crawlspaces. They can often be found in cardboard storage boxes. Their diet consists of fungal molds in the wild; however, indoors, they will feast on paper, glue, linens, cotton cloth, and starchy food items, causing marked destruction of boxed, dry foodstuffs.

Prevention/Treatment

Because silverfish thrive in damp conditions, controlling humidity is the best course of prevention. Also, caulking cracks and gaps around your home also is a smart preventative measure. One also can help prevent silverfish infestation by eliminating clutter and performing routine sanitation in areas that are attractive to silverfish. Cinnamon has been shown to be an effective silverfish deterrent; however, cinnamon does not kill the insects or their eggs, meaning infestation may continue to grow even if fewer insects are apparent. Because silverfish reproduce quickly, you should consult a pest control professional immediately if you suspect infestation.

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House Spiders

Size

3/8 in.

Color

Tan or light brown with darker markings on the abdomen.

Body Structure

Cephalothoraxes and globe-shaped abdomen, eight legs with dark markings and eight eyes.

Characteristics

Female adults deposit eggs, approximately 400 at a time, into a silken sac. In a lifetime, which averages about 1 year, the female will lay around 4,000 eggs. The gestation period for the eggs is one week. Offspring go through a series of “instars,” or transformations where the spider lings molt and develop before reaching maturity; male offspring go through six instars, while females undergo seven. After hatching, house spiders use “ballooning,” a process by which spiders release silk from their spinnerets into the air thereby allowing the wind to carry them to another locale, to leave the nest.

Habitat/Behavior

House spiders weave large, intricate webs made out of silk that serve as nesting and feeding sites. Webs often can be spotted inside homes in ceiling corners, around windows, beneath light fixtures and so forth. The house spider liquefies captured prey using its saliva before consuming it.

Commonly Active

Year-round, yet less active in the Winter.

Prevention/Treatment

Sanitation is the best preventative measure for controlling house spiders as well as “cobwebs.” Likewise, caulking cracks around your home will help prevent house spiders from invading. On that note, house spiders are natural predators to many other pests, including houseflies and mosquitoes. If your home is overrun with spiders, however, please contact a pest control professional to properly identify the species of spider. Do-it-yourself, store-bought chemical pesticides often are ineffective and can harm the health of your family and pets if administered incorrectly.

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