What’s Bugging You?
Africanized bees, also known as the “killer bee,” were introduced to the United States when they escaped from a testing facility in Brazil back in 1990. First spotted in Texas, these bees have spread across the country to colonize in our area. While they are beneficial honey bees that pollinate and contribute to the environment, they also cause a but of panic and anxiety for those who suffer from nesting activity or are allergic to wasp and bee stings.
Ants are considered to be the most successful and most abundant groups of insects on earth. For this reason, ants are the most commonly reported pest in both the home and workplace. Not only are ants the most common type of pest encountered, but they are also one of the most persistent pests. Although ants are frequently seen indoors, the majority of ant activity occurs outdoors where they forage on small insects and other small organisms. In the Tallahassee area, the most common ants that homeowners and businesses experience are Caribbean crazy ants, fire ants, big headed ants, ghost ants, and Florida carpenter ants.
Bed bugs are small, from as little to one millimeter during their early immature stages and reaching no more than ¼ of an inch as adults. These creepy insects feed exclusively on blood, requiring it for both development and reproduction. While they feed primarily on the blood of humans, they can feed on the blood from a wide variety of animals. These bugs do not fly or hop quite like ticks or fleas, but instead, they crawl quickly across the ground and are capable of squeezing into the tightest places. Having even the smallest crack or opening in your mattress or headboard may result in bed bugs.
Cockroaches are common pests that infest both houses and commercial buildings where there is food, warmth and moisture. There are multiple different species of cockroaches that can be found in Florida including Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, and American cockroaches. They are mainly active at night and are often found in homes and restaurants. Unlike pests that primarily feed off of outdoors vegetation, cockroaches are drawn to things that are commonly found in homes such as store-bought food, toothpaste, and kitchen sponges.
Fleas are small biting insects that feed on dogs and cats, but may also bite humans. Fleas are only 1/8 of an inch long, but they can jump up to 8 inches vertically. They are flat on the sides and have backward facing spines on their bodies. Fleas can be spread through the house as their eggs fall off the pet as it moves through the home and the yard, but in general they spend the majority of their time on the host animal. They become an even larger issue when they begin breeding in your home. These tiny jumping pests are a true nuisance and plague homeowners that experience their activity.
A mouse is a small nocturnal rodent that is very well suited to living in houses and other human made structures. Mice are often not seen by homeowners because they only come out at night, and they are usually identified through the damage they cause and the noises they make while out of sight. Mice tend to nibble on things, making frequent trips to food sources within 25 feet of their nests. After mice enter your home, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of since they often live in hidden areas within garages, attics, lofts, and wall interiors.
Mosquitoes are a type of fly that belong to the insect family Culex. The females have the piercing and sucking mouthparts that are necessary to allow them to feed on human and animal blood, which allows them to nourish their eggs. The male of the species does not bite and can even be beneficial in helping to pollinate some flowers. Mosquito bodies and wings are covered in tiny scales. Adult sizes may range from 3-9 mm. In Florida, mosquitoes are a year-round problem for residents, especially during hurricane season. While mosquito populations increase during the peak of summer heat, temperatures don’t get quite cold enough during the year to eliminate all mosquitoes.
Paper wasps are about 3’4″ long and are a commonly burnt orange-brown color. They can also have black and yellow stripes making them easy to mistake for yellow jackets. Their nests are about 1-2″ thick and are often referred to as umbrella-shaped since they hang upside-down attached to surfaces by a thin pedestal. Paper wasps scrape wood shavings off of decks, picnic tables, wooden furniture, and other wood around your property, turning it into a paste when mixed with their saliva. This is the building material that they use to create their unique nests. Although most paper wasp nests are grey, their nest colors can vary based on the available materials in the area.
Rats are large rodents that live in the Tallahassee area and across the United States. These nocturnal pests are destructive and create unsanitary environments when they infest residential homes. Urine and feces are of serious concern because of the rodent’s tenancy to get into food and share living space with humans. Their strong teeth can chew through wires, causing electrical outages and problems. Rat infestations are much more challenging when it comes to eliminating an active issue, which is why it’s imperative to address rat activity the moment it’s observed.
Termites fulfill an important role in our ecological system by speeding up the natural process of deterioration and help turn the dead wood into new soil. Unfortunately, termites don’t know the difference between a stump in your yard and the wood in your home. Termites live in social colonies, typically found in the soil. While they are generally found foraging underground for fallen wood, or plant debris, they can also enter homes causing extensive damage if left untreated.
Ticks are parasites that will attach to a host (animal or human) for days at a time to feed on their blood. There are several types of tick that can be found in Florida, with the most abundant being deer ticks, American dog ticks, and lone star ticks. There are some variations between species and between developmental stages, but in general, ticks have 8 legs and can grow as large as 1/2 of an inch. While not all ticks feed on blood as adults, it is necessary for them to do so in order to reach the adult stage of their life cycle. They are most commonly found in forests and other areas of where the land is not maintained or manicured (though certain ticks can and will find their way into well cared for lawns). Almost all ticks in the Florida area are capable of spreading disease.
Whiteflies are tiny, winged insects that you’ll likely see around your outdoor garden and plants. Their presence is problematic for homeowners or businesses that have trees and hedges on their property. Adults deposit eggs on the undersides of leaves. Once the eggs hatch they begin feeding until they are adults. There are over 75 species of whiteflies in Florida alone, with the most prevalent being the sweetpotato whitefly, ficus whitefly, citrus whitefly, and spiraling whitefly. Contrary to their name, whiteflies are not flies or related to flies. They are more closely related to aphids and mealybugs that suck sap from ornamental plants and fruits, leaving behind harmful honeydew.
Yellow jackets are easily the most aggressive stinging insect in Tallahassee. You can identify them by their long narrow waist, covered in black and yellow stripes. They are very small wasps, measuring only ½ inch long. Yellow jackets are social insects that live in nests or colonies with up to 4,000 workers. They feed on sweets and proteins, and therefore commonly invade outdoor events. Yellow jackets nest in wall voids, attics, and in the ground outdoors. Their nesting behavior can be startling if they start flying indoors with no warning. Yellow jackets have the ability to come in from outdoors, access wall voids, and fly around your house. Another unfortunate but common situation can happen if yellow jackets are nesting in the ground on your property.