Bed bugs are wingless insects having a flat oval body and a short, broad head and 3 pairs of walking legs. Unfed adults are from 5-7 mm long and brown to reddish-brown in color. After feeding, bed bugs swell slightly in size and darken to a blood-red color. Female bed bugs lay 3-4 eggs at a time and about 200 eggs during their reproductive lifespan, but are able to reproduce all year round. Their milky-white cylindrical eggs are visible to the naked eye and measure 1 mm in length. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks depending on temperature, with the hatchlings able to feed almost immediately. They pass through five molting stages (instars) before reaching maturity and require a blood meal during each of the instars to successfully molt and replace their external skeleton. At room temperature, it takes about 5 weeks for a bed bug to go from hatchling to reproductive maturity. They multiply quickly and travel easily from place to place, often through heat registers or electrical conduits from room to room or in apartments, from suite to suite. Bed bugs infestation has been known to cause anxiety and a feeling of shame equally valid as feeling guilt over contracting a cold or the flu. Bed bugs can also cause secondary infections, allergic reactions and psychological trauma. Anyone can be infested by this opportunistic species which relies on its hosts to facilitate movement from place to place. Bed bugs can also migrate from adjacent units through hallways, plumbing pipes, electrical lines or hitchhike by climbing into or onto bags, clothing, or other belongings. Bed bugs are parasitic on human beings, but have close relatives that infest birds and bats. All live in close association to their hosts and most often obtain access to blood when hosts are asleep. Bed bugs can live several weeks to months without feeding, with the length of time temperature- and age-dependent. Older bed bugs can live without feeding longer than early instars. Vacuuming is useful for removing bed bugs and eggs from carpets, mattresses, walls and other surfaces. It is also important to pay close attention to box springs, mattress edges and the outer edges of wall to wall carpets, especially close to or behind baseboards where droppings are often visible. It is advised that you exercise caution when buying second-hand furniture, bedding, mattresses and living room furniture such as tables, chairs and sofas. All these items should be carefully inspected before they're brought into your home to protect both you and your family.
About 4000 species of cockroach have been reported, 30 have been found in association with human beings, but 3 well-known pest species are found in North America. The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is reddish brown in color and has a length of about 30 mm, the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is tan to almost brown in color and about 15 mm long. Moreover, they have a pair of parallel streaks running from head to the base of the wings, but are unable to sustain flight. The Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) are dark brown to black in color and 25 mm in length. Cockroaches have broad, flattened bodies and relatively small heads. They are generalized insects, with few special adaptations and may be among the most primitive living insects. Their flattened bodies allow them to enter homes through cracks in brickwork and gaps around pipes. They are mainly active at night and hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Female cockroaches are sometimes seen carrying egg cases on the end of their abdomen; the egg case of the German cockroach holds from 30-40 long thin eggs. Eggs hatch from the combined pressure of the hatchlings gulping air. The hatchlings are initially bright white nymphs and continue inflating themselves with air, becoming harder and darker within about four hours. Development from eggs to adults takes 3 to 4 months. Cockroaches live up to a year and are one of the most commonly-noted household pests. They feed on human and pet food and may produce an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on body surfaces including those that are potentially dangerous to humans, particularly in environments such as hospitals. They carry human pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli. Cockroaches have also been linked to allergic reactions in humans and asthma. Some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. Cockroaches frequently live outdoors, although they prefer warm climates and are considered "cold intolerant," they're resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they've infested an area.
Ants are social insects belonging to the same group as wasps and bees, and like other insects, have three distinct body segments: head, thorax and abdomen. All insects have an external skeleton (exoskeleton) providing a protective covering over the body where muscles are attached to the exoskeleton contrasting with the internal skeletons of humans and other vertebrates. Ants live in large colonies with two main types found in a colony: queens and workers. The queen lays eggs and except for mating with males known as drones, produces all the workers in a colony. Workers may care for and feed the larvae, forage for food and/or defend the nest. Pest species include carpenter ants, pharaoh ants,odorous house ants, cornfield or moisture ants and thatching ants. Ants are classified on the basis of size, food sources. method of colony propagation, season of colony propagation, nest sites and types of damage they cause. An ant goes through all of the developmental stages known as metamorphosis, i.e. egg, larvae, pupae and adult, unlike species such as bedbugs or grasshoppers where hatchlings are merely small adults known as nymphs which proceed through successive molts and which are referred to as instars. Ants communicate with each other by chemicals called pheromones, chemical signals which are more developed in ants than other insects. Like other insects, ants perceive smells with their long, thin and mobile antennae. The paired antennae provide information about the direction and intensity of scents. Since most ants live on the ground, they use the soil surface to leave pheromone trails that can followed by other ants indicating directions to food sources and routes back to the nest.
Bees are flying insects well-known for their role in pollination and production of both honey and beeswax harvested by humans. Bees have a long proboscis that permits them to obtain nectar from flowers. Owing to an electrostatic charge on hairs, pollen also adheres to them which can be carried on their legs or abdomen. Most North American bees are either bumble bees or honey bees. Despite the honey bee's painful sting and the stereotype of insects as pests, bees are generally held in high regard owing to their function as pollinators. A modified ovipositor used for laying eggs is the stinger bees use for protection. They are mostly gentle creatures and only sting in defense of their nests. Although a bee's sting can be deadly to individuals having allergies to their venom, virtually all bee species are non-aggressive if undisturbed. Stingers in conjunction with venom-containing sacs in the abdomen make most bees formidable foes. If you see a bee hive, it's better to practice avoidance rather than attempting to deal with it yourself. What might appear on first examination to be only a small nest, may have dozens or even hundreds of individuals willing to die protecting the nest and queen. In North America, yellow jackets and hornets are often mistaken for bees, despite numerous differences existing between them, not the least of which is the parasitic nature of the latter which are actually wasps, opposed to the usefulness of bees as pollinators, producers of honey and the fact that bees die after they sting. Humans are often a greater danger to bees than bees to humans as they're affected and easily harmed by encounters with toxic chemicals used in the environment. Furthermore, what may be an unpleasant sting for you spells death for the bee which caused the unpleasantly.
Wasps are also stinging insects and not unlike bees, have a modified ovipositor used for defensive purposes, but all wasps can sting repeatedly because unlike bees, they lack barbs on their stinger. Some wasps are more aggressive than others, but most wasps species are more aggressive than bees. The most common pest species are paper wasps, yellow jackets and bald faced hornets. Paper wasps appear dark brown in color, but closer inspection reveals they're yellow having black stripes. They build small inverted nests under the eaves of houses, in attics, garages and sheds or under sidewalks having numerous chambers for rearing their larvae. They're about 1 inch in length, usually live with only a few other wasps and are not normally aggressive. Yellow jackets also have alternating black and yellow stripes, with the black areas generally larger than the black stripes on paper wasps. Their large nest is normally underground, and they live in larger groups than paper wasps numbering up to a thousand per nest. Bald faced hornets are black and have white markings on their faces. They construct a large, pear-shaped nest in trees or attached to buildings. They are slightly larger than wasps and may live in nests numbering a hundred or more individuals and are highly aggressive, vigorously defending their nests and surrounding territory.
Mice are small rodents (Mammalia) characterized by having two continuously growing incisor teeth kept short by nearly continuous gnawing. The largest North American rodent is the beaver, but the most common rodent pest in Alberta is the house mouse (plural mice). Mice have slender bodies and generally weigh less than an ounce (28 grams). They have relatively large ears, hairless tails and a pointed nose. Mice do not need water for survival and can obtain metabolic water from grains which comprise their primary diet in the wild. During extreme hot and cold weather they can also go dormant to conserve energy. Mice have enormous reproductive capacities with females producing 6-7 litters a year with 5-7 pups per litter after beginning reproduction as early as 5 weeks. House mice are capable of gnawing through wood, asphalt shingles and can squeeze through cracks as small as 1 cm. The presence of a mouse infestation can be inferred by finding droppings (feces) which are dark brown and approximately 6 mm in length. The requirement that mice gnaw almost continuously results in damage to homes and has the potential to result in fires owing to gnawing through insulation on electrical wires. Many diseases are also transmitted by mice and the external parasites they carry such as fleas. The black plague sweeping through Northern Europe killing 75 million people in the 14th century is believed to have been caused by the bubonic and other related plagues spread by fleas on rodents. Contamination of food by mice droppings may also cause food poisoning and enormous losses through food spoilage. To reduce the risk of catching rodent-borne diseases, never handle them or their droppings using bare hands. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a potentially fatal disease caused by the closely-related deer mouse. Humans may get HPS when they come into contact with infected rodents, their urine and/or droppings and can become infected by simply breathing dust from droppings. HPS was first recognized in 1994, but the first case likely occurred about 5 years earlier. Primary strategies for control of hantavirus are rodent and hygiene control in and around the home. It is important to cleanup mice urine, droppings, dead rodents and nests as well as limit rodent access to food sources such as pet foods. Ensuring nesting sites when discovered are well-sealed to limit points of entry and cleanup of previous infestations should only be done by trained professionals.
Spiders have an unsegmented body divided into head and abdomen having four pairs of walking legs by comparison to insects having three pairs. Spiders are not insects, but members of the class Arachnida. The house spider varies in color from dirty white to nearly black having more or less visible markings on its body. Its first pair of leg is almost three times the length of the body. Most spiders prey on insects, many of which are pests so having an occasional house spider can be useful in controlling insect pests, but phobias associated with spiders described in nursery rhymes like "Little Miss Muppet" has resulted in many people choosing to view them as pests. Spiders build webs spun with spider silk in dark corners, under furniture and anywhere else insects can be caught. Once prey becomes tangled in the web, spiders immobilizes them by wrapping them with more silk and then inject venom by biting to paralyze and partially digest the prey. Not all spiders are orb spinners, and there are many types of spiders that use other strategies to catch food. Most are nocturnal, shy, and avoid confrontations with humans by running away. They will only bite if they feel threatened, are squeezed or held. House spiders are mainly found in dark crawl spaces and garages.
Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are small flies having a reddish colour owing to the large red eyes of wild-type flies, although various mutations exist and they may occasionally have eyes that differ in color. They almost invariably begin flying into homes in late summer to fall when urban gardens have ripening tomatoes and apples. Getting rid of these pests is remarkably easy. By removing their food source, eliminating open fruit sources and laying out fruit fly traps, your home can become fruit fly free fairly quickly. Fruit flies are attracted to ripe vegetables, sweets and overripe fruit. Fermentation of sugars in fruit attracts them so overripe bananas and tree fruits provide a breeding ground where flies will lay eggs. To remove an infestation area having fruit flies, the food source must be located and removed.
Silverfish are small insects that normally live outdoors in warm and damp conditions, but may move indoors adapting easily to damp environments in your home such as bathrooms or basements. They normally move through heating ducts to colonize new areas in your home. They prefer warm areas, feed on starch, paste, glue, fabric and wallpaper and can live without food for months at a time.
Fleas are wingless insects that appear dark in color, have a flattened body and well-developed hind legs for jumping. Their sucking mouthparts are used to obtain blood from animals. Most fleas encountered in indoor urban environments are either cat or dog fleas. Their larvae are worm-like, legless and tan in color and feed on organic debris, dried blood and excrement from adult fleas. Fleas usually bite humans in locations where clothing fits tightly against the body. Adult fleas can live for several weeks without a blood meal, and unlike mosquitoes where only females bite and require blood for egg production, both sexes bite. Fleas can transmit several diseases including bubonic plague and tularemia. They are also the carriers of a tapeworm which infests dogs and humans.
The adult body length of these crustaceans, also known as wood lice, is about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm). They have seven pairs of legs, each of which is connected to an hard plate in the thorax region. Sowbugs copy armadillos by rolling into a ball as their major form of defense. They're mostly nocturnal and are often found under objects such as wood or rocks in moist locations. They often invade basements and the first floor of houses in the spring and feed on decaying vegetable materials all year round. Females give birth to between 24 and 28 young per brood, usually produce from one to three broods per year and can live as long as two years. Sowbugs and pillbugs are the only crustaceans adapted to spending their entire lives in an wholly terrestrial environment.
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