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ANTS
These pests range from the tiny, essentially harmless Ghost ant (also commonly referred to as the “sugar ant”) to the ferocious and prolific Fire ant that deliver a bite that literally feels like you’ve touched fire. Ant mounds can damage lawns and landscaping and contaminate food, food preparation areas, and invade pet food bowls when they make their way into your home or business. They may be small, but they make up for their size in numbers; if you spot one ant, be certain there are many, many ants; long trails of ants busily moving back and forth around the food site and the surrounding areas. Their small size makes them very difficult to keep outside as they are constantly foraging for food.

Ants have a three-part segmented body, three pairs of legs, and live in a colony with many other individuals of the same species. Ants, along with bees and wasps, are members of the order Hymenoptera. All ants are in the family Formicate, which is divided into a dozen or so subfamilies.

Winged ant reproductives, called alates or swarmers, leave the nest in large numbers in warm weather to mate and establish new colonies. They are often mistaken for termites that are similar in appearance and also exhibit this behavior. The way to tell them apart is by appearance, since the ant’s body is thin and constricted, whereas the termites body is straight-sided. Ants also have two pairs of long narrow wings that are firmly attached; the termite wings, which are similar in appearance, break off easily. If termite swarmers have been crawling, their broken wings litter the swarm area (which is also a good indicator of termite infestation, especially if found indoors). Ants have elbowed antennae, while termites have straight, beaded antennae.

Food preferences vary among ant species, but almost all ants are attracted to sweets. Honeydew, the sweet excretion of aphids and scale is highly favored by many ant species. Some, such as Argentine, Ghost, and White-footed ants actually tend or “farm” these insects, protecting them on the plant they eat and driving off any predators or parasites in order to secure a constant honeydew supply. This also increases damage from these pests.

Ants are social insects. They live in colonies that may include thousands or even millions of individuals. The wingless worker ants are the most common adults seen. However, there are three types of adults: Queens, Males, and Workers.
Ever wonder how ants communicate? Pheromones are the best-known form of communication for ants. Ants use these chemical signals to communicate how to find food and to alarm the colony if a threat exists.
Ants grow up in just a few days. Each ant passes through four distinct growing stages: egg, larva, pupa, and the adult. Ants live a very busy, but short life compared to humans. The average life expectancy of an ant is 45-60 days. However, they reproduce so quickly that the overall colony just gets larger with time.

Acrobat ants

Appearance:Acrobat ants

Acrobat ants have very shiny bodies that are variable in color from light red to brown or black. They have a heart-shaped abdomen that often bends up over their thorax when agitated. They also have a stinger.

Size:

Range from 1/8-inch to more than 1/4-inch in length

Behavior:

Acrobat ants eat a wide variety of foods, including sweets and proteins, though they prefer honeydew from sap-sucking insects. They will trail along tree limbs, utility lines, and fences; and enter structures through cracks and holes around utility lines or pipes. They are quick to bite, and emit a strong odor when disturbed.

Habitat:

Acrobat ants are the most dominant arboreal ant species in the forests of Northern Florida, and usually build their nests in the trees. They are extremely territorial, and only one colony will exist in a tree. They do not nest in sound wood, but are found in damp or rotting wood using cavities excavated by other insects. If damp or rotting wood is present these ants can invest buildings.

Interesting Facts:

Acrobat ants have a peculiar habit of bending their heart-shaped abdomen up over their body when disturbed.

Argentine ants

Appearance:Argentine ants

Argentine ants are light brown to brown in color.

Size:

Range from 1/11-inch to 1/10-inch in length.

Behavior:

Workers are often present in large numbers and are moving in trails. Trails may be similar to White-footed ant trails, but Argentine ants are more slender and move more quickly so the trails may not appear as condensed. Workers may overwhelm outdoor eating areas, even entering parked cars.

Habitat:

Argentine ants have multiple queen nests with many widespread subcolonies containing millions of ants. They are usually found in heavily disturbed sites, but can invade natural environments. They nest in mulch, soil, near tree roots, in trees, in rotten wood, or even in garbage piles.

Interesting Facts:

Workers can smell stale, greasy, or musty when crushed or stepped on.

Big-headed ants

Appearance:Big-headed ants

Big-headed ants are light brown to dark reddish brown in color. Major workers heads are very large in proportion to their bodies.

Size:

Range from 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Big-headed ants trail readily, but usually not far from their nest. Their foraging trails are sometimes covered with soil, resembling subterranean termite foraging tubes.

Habitat:

Big-headed ants form super (1,000-10,000) colonies. They prefer seeds and insects, but will occasionally feed on honeydew from sap-sucking insects. Inside they forage for meats, grease, liver, molasses, peanut butter, pet foods, and fruit juices; preferring high-protein foods.

Interesting Facts:

Big-headed ants get their name because of their disproportionately large head.

Caribbean Crazy

Appearance:Caribbean Crazy

Caribbean Crazy ants are golden-brown to reddish-brown in color, and are covered with dense hairs. After feeding, their abdomen will appear to be striped due to the stretching of the light colored membrane that connects the segments of the abdomen.

Size:

Range from 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

The Caribbean Crazy ant will scavenge for a wide variety of solid and liquid foods, such as seeds, fruits, garbage, honeydew, and practically any household food. They are also predatory and will attack other insects. Although they are called crazy ants, Caribbean Crazy ants actually follow very tight trails, which can be deceiving at first. Caribbean Crazy ants have rather large trails up to 3 or 4 inches in width and are very fast moving ants.

Habitat:

In the last few years, most of the reports of Caribbean Crazy ant infestations have come from pest control operators in and around South Florida. Trails consisting of thousands of Caribbean Crazy ants have been observed along sidewalks, buildings, and gardens.

Interesting Facts:

Reports of this ant in Florida date back to the mid 1950s, but infestations were uncommon until the late 1990s. However, Caribbean Crazy ants have become a severe problem in South Florida recently. They can be very difficult to control because of their extremely large numbers.

Carpenter ants

Appearance:Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants have an ash-brown to rusty-orange head and thorax, and their abdomen is black.

Size:

Range from 3/16-inch to 1/2-inch in length.

Behavior:

Carpenter ants forage alone or along trails 300 or more feet from the nest. They enter buildings around door and window frames, through eaves, along plumbing and utility lines, and over branches touching the building. Peak foraging occurs at night. Carpenter ants can inflict a nasty pinch when disturbed.

Habitat:

Carpenter ants will feed on sweets or proteins. They seem to prefer voids for nesting which have these characteristics: close to moisture and food sources, safe from predators such as birds and lizards, safe from flooding, heat, and other environmental stresses, and easily accessible (for them).

Interesting Facts:

Carpenter ants will hollow out wood softened by moisture and/or fungi to create nests. This wood can be in the form of tree stumps or dead tree limbs, or in any part of a structure having damaged wood. Bits of debris, called frass, are often ejected from nesting sites.

Compact Carpenter

Appearance:Compact Carpenter

Compact Carpenter ants have a brown head and thorax, and a blackish abdomen.

Size:

Range from 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

Workers forage in very dispersed trails or individually, and are active all day long. They are scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of liquid and solid foods.

Habitat:

Their most common habitats are hollow twigs, old termite galleries in dead wood, voids of tree trunks, and leaf axel bases in palms. They will also nest in the rotted ends of fence pickets and rails.

Interesting Facts:

Regular Florida Carpenter ants do not forage during the daytime, and are usually only seen in the evenings. However, Compact Carpenter ants are quite comfortable foraging during the heat of the day.

Crazy ants

Appearance:Crazy ants

Crazy ants range from red-brown to grayish, and even black in color.

Size:

Range from 1/12-inch to 1/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Crazy ants prefer sweets such as honeydew from insects. They also feed on seeds and insects for protein. They rarely follow strong trails and are known for their erratic movements.

Habitat:

The Crazy ant is highly adaptable and can live in both very dry and moist habitats. They typically nest outdoors in the soil and in the cavities of trees and shrubs, but frequently enter homes in the fall or after rain. Once inside your home, they will nest in wall and floor voids, especially near hot water pipes and heaters.

Interesting Facts:

This small ant gets it name from its characteristic erratic and rapid movement in its search for food.

Elongate Twig

Appearance:Elongate Twig

Elongate Twig ants are bi-colored red to brown. They have a stinger and will sting when disturbed.

Size:

Range from 5/16-inch to 2/5-inch in length.

Behavior:

Elongate Twig ants are large, slender, solitary ants that are often seen on vegetation. They will sting when disturbed, such as when trapped between clothes or skin.

Habitat:

Elongate Twig ants have single queen nests, which contain few individuals. They nest in hollow twigs and dried grasses barely wide enough for two or three ants to pass one another, and are usually placed high up in large trees. They forage on live insects, and collect honeydew from sap-sucking insects.

Interesting Facts:

Elongate Twig ants are wasp-like in appearance and move in quick, short dashes.

Red Imported Fire

Appearance:Red Imported Fire

Red Imported Fire ants have reddish brown body and a darker abdomen. These ants have a stinger and can deliver a very painful sting.

Size:

Range from 1/16-inch to 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

The Red Imported Fire ant has spread to more than 13 southern and western states and continues to expand their range. These ants can cause serious medical, agricultural, and property damage. They are very aggressive and will sting repeatedly, especially when their colony/mound is disturbed.

Habitat:

Fire ants typically nest outdoors in sunny areas of exposed soil or lawns. Fire ant infestations may reach 30 to 100 single-queen mounds per acre, containing up to 80,000 ants. They prefer high-protein foods, but will feed on almost any plant or animal matter.

Interesting Facts:

Fire ant colonies will generally have their own territory, and will forage in established trails. They are attracted to electrical junction boxes and air conditioners. They will also nest in gas and water meter boxes and follow pipes into buildings.

Ghost ants

Appearance:Ghost ants

Ghost ants have a dark head and thorax, with a pale abdomen and legs.

Size:

Less than 1/16-inch long.

Behavior:

Ghost ants have the habit of running rapidly and erratically around when disturbed. They will trail in a line, and can often be seen carrying their offspring to a new nesting location. They are small enough to enter homes through the tiniest holes in caulking, or cracks in foundations. Once inside your home, they can be seen in kitchens and bathrooms trailing to and from the sinks (searching for moisture). Ghost ants prefer to feed on honeydew and other insects, but once inside they will eat anything sweet (hence the commonly referred to name of “sugar ant”).

Habitat:

The Ghost ant is a nuisance ant that is common in central and southern Florida. Known as a "tramp" ant, it easily nests in potted plants and other moist areas. It is particularly fond of nesting inside the aluminum supports around screen porches. Once inside your home, it will nest in wall voids or spaces between cabinetry and baseboards. Nests contain multiple queens and multiple subcolonies.

Interesting Facts:

Ghost ants are known as "ghosts" because when they run around on light surfaces their transparent abdomens and legs seem to vanish; leaving just the dark head and thorax visible. On darker surfaces, all you see are pale patches moving about.

Odorous House ants

Appearance:Odorous House ants

Odorous House ants are dark brown to black in color.

Size:

1/8-inch long.

Behavior:

Odorous House ants regularly forage for food along well-traveled trails. They feed on dead insects, sweets, and meats; though they prefer honeydew.

Habitat:

Odorous House ants nest outdoors in the soil under stones, logs, mulch, debris, and other items. Once inside your home, they will nest in wall and floor voids; particularly in moist or warm areas.

Interesting Facts:

Odorous House ants get their name from the disagreeable odor, similar to the smell of rotten coconuts, which is given off when the worker ants are crushed or stepped on.

Pavements ants

Appearance:Pavements ants

Pavements ants are light brown to black in color, and have pale legs and antennae.

Size:

1/8-inch long.

Behavior:

Pavement ants are opportunistic feeders that will "swarm" on foods within their foraging range. Outdoors, this ant feeds on insects, honeydew, seeds, and plant sap. Once inside your home, they will feed on meats, nuts cheese, honey, bread crumbs, meats, and grease.

Habitat:

Pavement ant colonies are fairly small and contain several queens. Outdoors, these ants nest in soil, under stones, by slabs next to buildings, and in pavement cracks. Once inside your home, they will occasionally nest in walls, insulation, and under floors. Colonies will move near a heat source in winter, and will often follow pipes through slabs to access buildings.

Interesting Facts:

Pet food bowls are common foraging sites for Pavement ants.

Pharaoh ants

Appearance:Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants have a pale yellow to reddish body, and black shading on the top and rear portion of their abdomen. They have a stinger.

Size:

Range from 1/16-inch to 1/12-inch in length.

Behavior:

Pharaoh ants feed on sweets and dead insects. They forage in strong, tightly linked trails. They have multiple queens and multiple nesting locations.

Habitat:

In sub-tropical areas Pharaoh ants readily nest outside in leaf debris found on or near structures. Once inside your home, they can nest in wall voids, cabinets, boxes of food, and any other accessible crevices and spaces. Re-invasion of the structure can occur throughout warm parts of the year.

Interesting Facts:

Their colonies have multiple queens and can split into smaller groups, spreading very rapidly. They are also known to invade sick rooms and feed on blood plasma and wound dressings.

Pyramid ants

Appearance:Pyramid ants

Pyramid ants are pale orange to dark brown in color. They are slender and twig-like.

Size:

Range from 1/12-inch to 1/6-inch in length.

Behavior:

Although all ants are social, pyramid ants will not be seen in large numbers, but rather singly, foraging in search of food. They can be seen entering and departing from a hole in the top of their nest that looks like a small sand crater.

Habitat:

They nest in soil that is preferably sandy. The nest has a single entrance surrounded by a crater-shaped mound of soil and a there is a single queen per nest. They feed on a variety of foods including other insects, but have a preference for sweets. Pyramid ants usually nest in bright, sunny, open-spaces in lawns. Oftentimes, pyramid ant nests will be in close proximity to fire ant nests because pyramid ants are predators of the winged male and female fire ants.

Interesting Facts:

Pyramid ants gained their name from the pyramid projection on their thorax.

Rover ants

Appearance:Rover ants

Rover ants are dark brown to pale blond in color.

Size:

Range from 1/16-inch to 1/12-inch in length.

Behavior:

Rover ants may be seen excitedly running up and down vertical objects in yards, such as blades of grass, chairs, and fence posts. They are also normally seen with larger winged individuals. Rover ants are most often seen as dead, winged alates floating in pools in large numbers; their swollen bodies look striped.

Habitat:

Rover ants nest under stones in the soil or in rotting wood. They prefer honeydew obtained from sap-sucking insects on the roots of plants.

Interesting Facts:

Female winged alates are three times larger than workers, and males are small enough to fit through mosquito screening.

Thief ants

Appearance:Thief ants

Thief ants are yellow to light brown in color with very small eyes. They have a small stinger.

Size:

1/32-inch long.

Behavior:

Thief ant colonies are relatively small and contain a few hundred to several thousand workers with many queens. They commonly nest close to other species of ants. They forage in set trails much like Pharaoh ants.

Habitat:

Thief ants nest outdoors under stones or logs. They also often nest near larger ants, from which they steal food and young larvae. Once inside your home, they occasionally build nests in walls or in the foundation. Thief ants prefer meat, grease, seeds, or dead insects.

Interesting Facts:

The Thief ant is a very small ant, and gets its name from the behavior of stealing food from other ants.

White-footed ants

Appearance:White-footed ants

White-footed ants are dark, usually black, in color. Their legs are very pale, giving rise to the name "white-footed".

Size:

1/8-inch long.

Behavior:

White-footed ants feed on plant nectars and honeydew produced on plants by aphids. They will also feed on dead insects and other protein. They are commonly found foraging along branches and tree trunks, and will send scouts out to lay trails to new food sources. They will enter structures through any small openings, and trail heavily on and in the building. They frequently are seen in kitchens and bathrooms, feeding on both liquid and solid foods that are found there.

Habitat:

White-footed ants build their nests at or above ground level in numerous locations around a home. They are frequently found in trees, bushes, under leaf litter, or in loose mulch around the exterior. Once inside your home, they are found in wall voids and attics. Their colonies are large, and they seem to be interconnected with other nests in the same area.

Interesting Facts:

White-footed ants trail very heavily. They can be seen as a black line trailing up the side of a building.

ROACHES
There are about 3,500 cockroach species world-wide, about 70 of which are found in the United States. Roaches are also commonly referred to as palmetto bugs or waterbugs, but regardless of their name they can be real pests!

Roaches vary in color from a brown to black in the house-invading species, but the tropical species can be green, orange, and other colors.  These nasty pests can grow up to 1.5 inches in length, and prefer warm, moist, and dark areas. They have an oval shaped and are flat-bodied, with a pronotum, or shield-like covering, which projects over their head. Both the male and female are fully winged. Although they are able to fly short distances, they seldom do, preferring to let their six long legs do the scurrying when making a run for cover, which anyone who has surprised one feeding knows.

Females produce their skittering spawn from purse-shaped egg capsules, which are formed at a rate of about one per week until 15-90 have been produced. Each capsule contains 14-16 eggs, which produce grayish-brown nymphs. These nymphs quickly begin feeding, and although their appearance and behavior is similar to the adults, they are smaller and don’t have wings. Newly molted nymphs are white, but darken to their normal color within a few hours.

Although cockroaches can be found in groups in their daytime hiding areas, known as harborages, or feeding in groups at night, cockroaches are generally not social insects as ants or wasps are. They tend to behave in an individual or non-social manner, but often form small clusters. Cockroaches aren’t picky eaters, though they tend to favor decaying matter, and have been known to snack on sweet, starchy and greasy foods. As scavengers, the cockroach is an opportunistic and omnivorous feeder. They have been known to eat just about anything: paper, boots, pet food, book bindings, cloth, leather, glue, and even other roaches.

Most Floridians are familiar with the American roach, which is the largest pest species of cockroach. They are reddish-brown with light brown markings around and behind its head, as well as two dark spots on the pronotum that look like eyes. Other cockroach species, such as the Florida Woods roach, Smoky Brown roach, Brown Banded roach, Australian roach, German roach and Asian roaches are common in Florida as well.

American roaches

Appearance:American roaches

American roaches are reddish-brown in color with light markings behind the head.

Size:

1 ½ - inches in length. This is the largest of the domestic cockroaches.

Behavior:

Although these are outdoor roaches, they will migrate inside by crawling or flying into structures. They can also enter through the plumbing. Trees or shrubs located alongside buildings, or trees with branches overhanging roofs facilitate the entry of this roach into the home. The life cycle of the American roach averages about 600 days, and each adult female can produce approximately 150 offspring in her lifetime. Both males and females can fly. The American roach is omnivorous, and will eat almost anything. It prefers sweets and has been observed eating paper, boots, hair, bread, fruit, and other dead insects.

Habitat:

The American cockroach is often found residing indoors as well as outdoors. It is found mainly in basements, sewers, steam tunnels, and drainage systems. They are also found in moist shady areas outdoors, in yards, hollow trees, wood piles, and mulch. Occasionally American roaches are seen under roof shingles and in attics.

Interesting Facts:

American cockroaches can become a public health concern due to their association with human waste and disease and their ability to move from sewers into homes and commercial establishments. At least 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoans, as well as five species of helminthic worms, have been associated with the American cockroach.

Asian roaches

Appearance:Asian roaches

Asian roaches are almost identical in appearance to German roaches. The main differences between the Asian and German cockroaches are: The wings of the Asian cockroach are usually longer and narrower than those of the German cockroach and Asian cockroaches are lighter in color than most German cockroaches.

Size:

Ranges from ½-inch to 5/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Asian cockroaches are strong fliers, and are both a feral (wild) and periodomestic species. Adults take flight even during the day if disturbed, and are easily seen in infested lawns (because their flight is similar to that of moths and leafhoppers). At dusk it is common to see a flurry of Asian roach activity.

Habitat:

Asian roaches are abundant in shaded areas with leaf litter or where there is ground cover. In feral habitats, the Asian cockroach is found in shaded areas of pastures, along shaded road sides in leaf mulch, in shaded areas of thick grass, and in ground cover of abandoned citrus groves. The adults have been found feeding on the honeydew from aphids and on flowers during the night.

Interesting Facts:

The Asian cockroach is a rural and suburban pest, and will infest both homes and yards. It is abundant outdoors, where populations of 30,000 to 250,000 per acre have been found.

Australian roaches

Appearance:Australian roaches

Australian roaches are reddish-brown to dark-brown in color. They have a characteristic yellow margin on the thorax and yellow stripes on the wings.

Size:

Range from 1 1/4 to 1 3/8 inches in length.

Behavior:

Australian cockroaches complete their life cycle in about a year (from egg to adult). Females can produce between 20 to 30 egg capsules, which often will contain about 16 viable eggs.

Habitat:

Australian roaches prefer to live outdoors around the perimeter of houses. They are the most prevalent cockroach outdoors in South Florida. Australian cockroaches are commonly found in: leaf litter, flowers, trees, tree holes, wood piles, garages, crawl spaces, attics, green houses, and in and around shrubs.

Interesting Facts:

Once inside your home, Australian cockroaches often eat clothing, creating holes, and also feed upon book covers. Outside, Australian roach feeds on plants and can be very damaging to greenhouses, atriums, and yards.

Brown Banded roaches

Appearance:Brown Banded roaches

Brown Banded roaches are light brown to glossy dark brown in color. There are two pale, transverse stripes on the abdomen of the cockroach.

Size:

Approximately 5/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Brown Banded cockroach females deposit egg capsules in clusters on furniture, draperies, wall decorations, shelving, and ceilings. The egg capsule contains 14 to 16 eggs, and a female produces 10 to 20 capsules in her lifetime. They feed on starchy materials, and will even eat non-food items such as nylon stockings. They are nocturnal, and while both cockroaches can jump, only males can fly.

Habitat:

Brown Banded roaches prefer to hide in warm, dry areas. They can be found near the ceiling, behind wall decorations and loose wallpaper, in closets, beneath or inside of upholstered furniture, and in electrical appliances, such as refrigerator motor housings. They will be found in completely different areas of the home than the German cockroach.

Interesting Facts:

Brown Banded cockroaches can foul food, damage wallpaper and books, eat glue from furniture, and produce an unpleasant odor. Some homeowners are allergic to these roaches also. They carry pathogens that can cause food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea.

Cuban roaches

Appearance:Cuban roaches

Adults are pale green and nymphs are brown or black.

Size:

Cuban roaches can grow up to 2-inches in length.

Behavior:

Cuban roaches are attracted to light and are strong flyers. This roach does not normally invade homes.

Habitat:

The Cuban cockroach, also called the green banana cockroach, is usually an outdoor species. They can be found in shrubbery, trees, and plants.

Interesting Facts:

Cuban cockroach adults are green, while the nymphs are dark brown to black. This is because the adults live in the canopies of trees, while the nymphs live on the ground below. Their coloration acts as a camouflage for both nymphs and adults.

Florida Woods roaches

Appearance:Florida Woods roaches

The Florida Woods roach is dark reddish-brown to black in color and has a wide glossy body. At first it appears to be wingless, but does have very short wings just beneath its head.

Size:

Ranges from 1 ½ to 2-inches in length.

Behavior:

The Florida woods cockroach is often called the "stinking" cockroach because it produces a foul-smelling fluid to protect it from predators. The nymphs have broad yellow bands on the top of their thorax. The average egg-to-adult development is approximately 100 days, and females will produce 21 eggs per egg capsule.

Habitat:

Florida Woods roaches are commonly found in leaf litter, mulch, wood piles, and under rotting logs. They prefer damp locations with lots of moisture. It can wander indoors at times, especially into damp locations such as bathrooms.

German roaches

Appearance:German roaches

German roaches are brown to dark brown in color. They have two distinct parallel bands running the length of their pronotum. The sexes can be distinguished by the more slender body of the male.

Size:

Adults are approximately ½-inch in length.

Behavior:

German roaches are the most widespread of all cockroaches in the United States. They complete their lifecycle in approximately 100 days, and they breed continuously (with many overlapping generations present at any one time). Under ideal conditions, it has been estimated that one female German roach can be the cause of a population explosion of over 1 million more German roaches.

Habitat:

German roaches are commonly found in and around apartments, homes, supermarkets, and restaurants. They prefer areas near food, moisture, and warmth. The major factor limiting German cockroaches survival appears to be cold temperatures. Studies have shown that German cockroaches are unable to colonize and survive in homes without central heating in northern climates. However, in the warmer temperatures of Florida this roach flourishes.

Interesting Facts:

German roaches often litter food or food products with their feces and defensive secretions. They also physically transport and often harbor pathogenic organisms, and in some cases may cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, some scientists suggest that German cockroach infestations may cause human psychological stress and that the stigma associated with infestations alters human behavior.

Oriental roaches

Appearance:Oriental roaches

Oriental roaches are dark brown to black in color. Males have wings covering 3/4 of their body, and the female has very short wings. However, both are unable to fly.

Size:

Approximately 1-inch in length.

Behavior:

Oriental roaches are often found feeding on garbage, sewage, or decaying organic matter. They will eat almost anything, but they prefer a high starch diet. Oriental cockroaches tend to live near the ground in warm, damp areas. They are more slow-moving than other species and they also give off an unpleasant odor.

Habitat:

Oriental cockroaches prefer areas of high humidity and cool temperature. They are commonly found in basements, crawl spaces, and areas between the soil and foundation. They will often enter buildings through sewer pipes.

Interesting Facts:

The Oriental roach often inhabits sewers and therefore carries many pathogenic organisms.

Smoky Brown roaches

Appearance:Smoky Brown roaches

Smoky Brown roaches are mahogany brown to black in color, and have no patterns behind their head.

Size:

1 ¼-inch in length.

Behavior:

Smoky Brown cockroaches are good fliers and easily travel from trees on to houses. It is commonly attracted to homes to feed on trash containers and pet food on patios and decks. They are also attracted to light.

Habitat:

Smoky Brown roaches are abundant outdoors and are found in tree holes and leaf litter. They are commonly found in the attics of homes.

Interesting Facts:

Smoky Brown cockroaches are scavengers and will eat almost anything, though they normally feed on plant material.

Surinam roaches

Appearance:Surinam roaches

Surinam roaches are shiny brown to black in color. These are also called Bi-Colored roaches because the head, thorax and body are black, while the wings are a light brown.

Size:

¾-inch in length.

Behavior:

The female Surinam cockroach retains the egg capsule within the abdomen, and gives birth to live young. No males are found in the U.S., and are not necessary to reproduce.

Habitat:

Surinam roaches are found primarily in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and in humid tropical climates. They are burrowing insects that are capable of destroying various plants. Surinam cockroaches are often unknowingly brought into homes, shopping malls, and restaurants in potted plants.

Interesting Facts:

Surinam roaches are plant feeders. They can severely damage plants in greenhouses, atriums, and yards.

TICKS

Appearance:TICKS

Ticks have four pairs of legs as adults and no antennae. They vary in color by species. There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called the “hard” ticks and “soft” ticks. Hard ticks, like the common dog tick, have a hard shield just behind the mouthparts. Hard ticks, when unfed, are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and they are shaped like a large raisin.

Size:

Adult ticks range in size from 1/8-inch to 5/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Most species of ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Ticks are not insects like fleas, but arachnids like spiders, scorpions, and mites. They have a four-stage life cycle: eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. Depending on its species, a tick may take less than a year or up to several years to go through its four-stage life cycle. While ticks need a blood meal at each stage after hatching, some species can survive years without feeding.

Habitat:

Ticks are commonly found near wooded or vegetated areas. They need an area with high humidity (to maintain moisture balance) and a mix of animal species to act as hosts.
Hard ticks seek hosts by an interesting behavior called "questing." Questing ticks crawl up the stems of grass, or perch on the edges of leaves on the ground, with their front legs extended. Carbon dioxide, heat, and/or movement serve as stimuli for questing behavior. Subsequently, these ticks climb on to a potential host which brushes against their extended front legs.

Health Concerns:

Ticks carry and transmit many dangerous pathogens. They spread diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, relapsing fever, and tularemia.

Deer tick
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the blacklegged tick, lives in the eastern and middle U.S. and also has a close relative on the West Coast. It attacks many animals including humans, deer, and pets. Known for infecting humans with Lyme disease, the deer tick can also transmit human granulocytic ehrlichiosis and babesiosis.

American dog tick
The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) is found east of the Rockies as well as on the West Coast. It prefers dogs but will also bite humans and other large mammals. It can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) lives throughout the U.S., and though it rarely bites humans, it is a highly annoying pest to dogs and other pets. It is not known to transmit disease to humans.

Rocky Mountain wood tick
The Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) occurs in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. and southwestern Canada. It transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans and blood parasites to cattle and dogs. It also can inject dangerous toxins into the host as it feeds.

Lone star tick
The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is found in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States. It has a painful, itchy bite and can transmit ehrlichiosis, tick-borne typhus, and tularemia to humans.

Appearance and habits:

A tick has eight legs, a tiny head, and a flat, seed-shaped body that swells up like a balloon as it feeds. Ticks that are only a few millimeters long before they bite can grow up to half an inch when engorged with blood. Their appearance varies depending on species, sex, and life cycle stage, but they are generally dark-colored, sometimes with distinctive patterns.
In each stage of a tick's life cycle (larva, nymph, and adult) it searches for a host, using its ability to sense heat, light, and carbon dioxide. The tick often crawls to the top of weeds, grass, and other vegetation so that it can grab a passing host animal with its front legs. Once it has grabbed onto a host, it may bite any part of the body but usually prefers to crawl to the top of the host and bite the head, neck, or ears. The tick uses fanglike mouth parts called chelicerae to pierce the skin, and inserts a feeding tube called a hypostome. The hypostome is barbed, making it very hard to remove the tick by pulling. The tick drinks blood until it is full, then drops off the host to molt or lay eggs.
People typically acquire ticks in the spring and summer, while walking through tall grass, woods, and weedy areas. Many ticks can smell animals and are thus attracted to paths and trails where their potential hosts travel. They can also infest homes if carried indoors by pets.

Prevention and treatment of tick bites:

To prevent tick bites, use repellent and cover up bare skin when walking in tick habitats such as woods and tall grass. Check your body and clothes every day after you come back inside. Check the fur of any pets that go outdoors, especially around the neck and ears.
If you find an embedded tick, do not simply grab its body and pull, as the tick's barbed hypostome (feeding tube) may break off and remain in the bite. Applying chemicals or flame to the tick is not a good idea because, while it may make the tick let go, it can also cause the tick to spit blood back into the wound, possibly sending disease germs into the bloodstream in the process. The best way to get rid of an embedded tick is by inserting a pair of sharp tweezers into the bite, and gently pulling the whole tick out, mouth parts and all.
Once you have removed a tick, do not try to crush it (unengorged ticks are flat and very hard to crush, while engorged ticks will burst and release blood. Instead, you should flush the tick down a drain or seal it in a jar. (It can be useful to keep the tick to show to a doctor in case you get sick from the bite.) Some people kill and preserve ticks by dropping them into bottles of rubbing alcohol; if you do this, do not use the alcohol in that bottle for anything else.

FLEAS

Appearance:FLEAS

Fleas are reddish-brown in color. They are wingless, blood-sucking insects. Their bodies are laterally compressed (flattened side to side) permitting easy movement through the hairs on the host's body. Their legs are long and well adapted for jumping. The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward. The mouthparts of an adult flea are adapted for sucking blood from a host.

Size:

Fleas are small at only about 1/6-inch long.

Behavior:

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts, which are normally humans or pets. They have powerful legs that enable them to jump approximately 7 inches vertically and 14 inches horizontally. The female flea lays tiny, white eggs loosely on the hairs, in the feathers, or in the habitat of the host. The eggs readily fall off the host onto the ground, floors, bedding, or furniture. Some fleas can lay 500 eggs over a period of several months.

Habitat:

Several species of fleas cause problems in Florida. The cat flea is the most frequently found species, but dog, human, and sticktight fleas are also present. Fleas may attack a wide variety of warm blooded animals including dogs, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and mice. They are most often brought into the home on pets from outside.

Health Concerns:

Fleas, or an animal they have infected, can transmit bubonic plague. Thirteen cases, including one death, were reported to the Center for Disease Control in 1994. Another 7 cases, also including one death, were reported in 1994.

SPIDERSSpider
All spiders can and will bite if in danger or accidentally touched e.g. in shoes or clothing etc. Any spider bite can cause a reaction, ranging from a bee or wasp sting type bite to those requiring hospitalisation.  Different people react in different ways, so if you see a spider in your garden shed, greenhouse, or garage, it is best to be cautious and look but do not handle any spider no matter how it is classified.
Spiders are perhaps the most feared pest. Some species are large and hairy, such as the wolf spider, while others are smaller and shiny, such as the black widow spider. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, affects millions of Americans and can be quite a debilitating problem.
Spiders are arachnids, not insects. Arachnids include spiders, scorpions, harvestmen, ticks, and mites. Spiders are the only arachnids that have special glands in their abdomen which produce silk. Spider bodies have two parts: the cephalothorax (combining of head and thorax) and the abdomen.
There are many different kinds of spiders. All spiders have eight legs, and most have eight eyes. Spiders do not have ears; instead they feel the sound vibrations with tiny hairs on their legs. Spiders also breathe.
Blood fills up all the empty space in a spider's body and helps it to keep its legs stiff so it can walk. As spiders grow, they molt. That means they shed their old skin and grow a new one. They molt many times before they become adults. Many spiders live for only one year, but some like the tarantula can live much longer.

SilverfishSilverfish

Appearance:

Silverfish are small, wingless insects. They are shiny gray or silver in color. The metallic sheen is due to silvery scales, which only appear after the third molt. They have three long, thin appendages extending from the abdomen.

Size:

Ranges from 1/2 to 1-inch in length.

Behavior:

Silverfish require between four months and three years to grow from an egg to an adult. Silverfish may live up to eight years, and molt up to eight times. Under favorable conditions, silverfish may molt up to four times per year. If conditions are too cold or dry, silverfish cannot reproduce.

Habitat:

Silverfish are common in human dwellings, much like its relative the firebrat. Silverfish can often be found under refrigerators or around a well-heated toilet, if the crevices in the floor tiles are large enough.

Interesting Facts:

Silverfish will feed on glue, book bindings, photos, sugar, hair, dandruff, and dirt. They can also cause damage to books, tapestries, and textiles.

MosquitoesMosquitoes

Appearance:

Mosquitoes bite with their mouthparts and have scales on the back of their wings.

Size:

Approximately ½-inch long.

Behavior:

Mosquitoes have caused countless problems for man throughout history. In order to lay eggs, a female mosquito must feed on the blood of a human or animal. It can leave behind serious health threats such as viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.

Habitat:

Mosquitoes require as little as 2 inches of standing water to successfully breed. Mosquitoes that attack people in their own yard are usually breeding close by. Other mosquitoes, such as container breeders, do not seek out a natural body of water, but rather lay eggs in any container that is holding water (bird bath, tire, bucket, etc…). Tree hole mosquitoes, for example, lay their eggs in standing water that has accumulated inside of the hollows within trees.

Interesting Facts:

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as encephalitis and West Nile Virus, cause many deaths in developing countries.

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly
One of the newest pests in Florida is the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly. This pest was first found in 2009 and has since spread from Miami up to Melbourne on the East Coast and up to Ft Meyers on the West Coast of Florida. Unlike other whiteflies that are small and barely visible, the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is larger (1/8") and resembles a small moth. The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly belong to the Order Hemiptera which also includes aphids, scales, and mealybugs. These insects typically feed on the underside of leaves with their "needle-like" mouthparts. This whitefly hasn't yet been shown to cause any permanent damage to any host plants. However, the primary problem is the extremely large amount of honeydew produced by this insect. The honeydew coats everything below in a sticky sap-like mess.
Description and DamageThe list of host plants for Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is constantly growing. These pests don't appear to be host specific. However, several species of plants seem to be favored. Coconut palms, white bird-of-paradises, and Gumbo Limbo trees are the top three favorite hosts. Other common hosts include: most palm species, avocado, oak trees, black olives, sea grapes, wax myrtles, etc.
As mentioned above, Rugose Spiraling Whitefly don't appear to injure the plant like other whitefly, but do produce an unbelievable amount of honeydew. Honeydew is fecal secretions of certain insects that resemble tree sap. This insect produces so much honeydew your feet may stick to the ground below. There are reports of Rugose Spiraling Whitefly from a single coconut tree in a parking lot coating all cars within 50 feet in honeydew. To make matters worse, Sooty Mold may also form on the honeydew creating a black "sooty" appearance on all surfaces below the tree.
The adult whitefly resembles a small moth (1/8") with a whiteish-yellow body and white mottled wings. Immature stages (eggs and nymphs) can be found primarily on the underside of the leaves. Rugose Spiraling Whitefly can be identified by the distinct "spiraling" pattern of their egg masses. In severe infestations the entire underside of the leaves is coated in white egg masses and the pattern is less apparent. Rugose Spiralling Whitefly egg masses will also be found on nearby non-host plants and even concrete!
Monitor your landscape plants for early signs of an infestation because it is better to prevent infestations than it is to try to fix severe infestations. Honeydew and Sooty-mold may remain for months after the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly are gone.
Biology: The exact biology of the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is not known, however, it is probably similar to related species in Florida. Eggs which are usually laid on the underside of leaves hatch into a crawler stage. The crawler wanders around the leaf until they begin to feed. From this point until they emerge as adults, they are immobile and remain in the same place on the plant. These feeding, non-mobile stages (nymphs) are usually oval, flat, and simple in appearance.

Appearance:Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

White Flies are small winged insects that look more like moths than flies. They have a powdery wax which both protects them and is key to identification.

Size:

Approximately 1/16-inch long.

Behavior:

Whiteflies damage plants by tapping into the phloem. The plants lose sap and react to the white flies' toxic saliva. As whiteflies congregate in large numbers, they overwhelm plants quickly. It can get so bad that when you tap a leaf, a swarm of whiteflies will go airborne before re-settling under the leaf. They also excrete honeydew, which promotes mold growth and can ruin a cotton crop with its stickiness.

Habitat:

Whiteflies are typically found on the underside of plant leaves.

Damage Caused:

Whiteflies cause leaf damage, sap drainage, honeydew (which lures other insects), and unsightly plant appearances.

Interesting Facts:

Whiteflies have an unusually modified form of metamorphosis. In the immature stages they begin life as mobile individuals, but soon attach themselves to a plant. The stage before the adult is called a pupa (though it is not at all the same as the true pupal stage in holometabolous insects).

Fig White FlyFig Whitefly

Introduction:

Recently, a new pest was reported attacking ficus trees and hedges in South Florida. This pest was identified as the fig whitefly (also sometimes called the “ficus whitefly”), and is a new U.S. continental record. Whiteflies are small, winged insects that belong to the Order Hemiptera which also includes aphids, scales, and mealybugs. These insects typically feed on the underside of leaves with their “needle-like” mouthparts. Whiteflies can seriously injure host plants by sucking juices from them causing wilting, yellowing, stunting, leaf drop, or even death.

Description and Damage:

The leaves of ficus hedges infested with whiteflies begin to turn yellow before the leaves are dropped from the plant.  Ficus trees without their leaves are one of the most obvious symptoms of a whitefly infestation.  This whitefly has been most commonly found infesting weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) but has also been seen on F. altissima, F. bengalensis (also called “banyan tree”), F. microcarpa, and F. maclellandii.  Weeping figs are commonly used as hedges but also grow as trees.  Other hosts include the strangler fig (F. aurea), Cuban laurel (F. microcarpa), fiddle-leaf fig (F. lyrata) and banana-leaf fig (F. macllandii).  This whitefly may eventually be found on other species of ficus.  Azalea has also been listed as a host plant.
If the foliage is disturbed the small, white gnat-like adult whiteflies can be seen flying from the foliage.  The adult whitefly resembles a very small moth with a yellow body and white wings with a faint grey band in the middle of the wings.   Immature stages (eggs and nymphs) can be found primarily on the underside of the leaves. Prior to adult emergence, the nymphs are tan to light green discs with red eyes.  The underside of infested leaves look like they are dotted with small, silver or white spots which are actually the empty “skin” of the pupae after the adult emerges.

Biology:

The biology of the fig whitefly or ficus whitefly is not known, however, it is probably similar to related species in Florida.  Eggs which are usually laid on the underside of leaves hatch into a crawler stage.  The crawler wanders around the leaf until they begin to feed.  From this point until they emerge as adults, they are immobile and remain in the same place on the plant.  These feeding, non-mobile stages (nymphs) are usually oval, flat, and simple in appearance.
Monitor your ficus plants for early signs of an infestation because it will be easier to manage the pest before it builds to high populations and causes major damage.  Also, if infested trees or hedges are trimmed, either leave the clippings on the property or if removing, bag the clippings to reduce the chance of spreading the insects.  If clippings are being transported in a truck, be sure to either bag them or cover these clippings with a tarp.

Sod WebwormsSod webworms

Size:

Range from 3/4 to 1-inch long in the caterpillar stage.

Behavior:

Sod webworms will feed on the upper root systems, stems, and blades of grass. They build protective silken webs, usually on steep slopes and in sunny areas, where they feed and develop. In early May, they pupate in underground cocoons made of silk, bits of plants, and soil. About two weeks later, adults emerge. Beginning in May, moth flights may occur until October. The moths, erratic and weak flyers, live only a few days and feed solely on dew. They are active at dusk, resting near the ground in the grass during the day.

Habitat:

Adult sod webworms rest in the turf and on shrubbery during the day and randomly scatter their eggs into the grass in the late afternoon and early evening while flying in a zigzag fashion just above the turf surface. The eggs, which are deposited indiscriminately over the grass, hatch in 7 to 10 days. In Florida, tropical sod webworms may produce new generations very quickly.

Interesting Facts:

Sod webworms feed on lawns, golf course grasses, some clovers, corn, tobacco, bluegrass, and pasture and field grasses.

Scale InsectsScale Insects

Appearance:

Scale insects are sap-feeding bugs that have a tan to brown shell-like covering or scale that protects the insect's body. Some scales are hemispherical in shape, while others are oval and flat.

Size:

Range from 1/16 to 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

Scale insects feed by sucking plant sap and may cause poor, stunted plant growth. A large quantity of sweet, sticky liquid called honeydew is excreted by scale insects. Honeydew can make a sticky, shiny mess on the plant and nearby furniture and floors. A black fungus called sooty mold may grow on the honeydew. This can also attract other pests such as ants.

Habitat:

Several species of scale insects commonly infest plants in the home or greenhouse. They can be serious pests on all types of woody plants and shrubs. Scales have long piercing mouthparts with which they use to suck juices out of plants. They may occur on twigs, leaves, branches, or fruit. Severe infestations can cause overall decline and even death of plants.

Interesting Facts:

Scales are so unusual looking that many people do not at first recognize them as insects. Adult female scales and many immature forms do not move and are hidden under a disk-like or waxy covering. They lack a separate head and other recognizable body parts.

Grubs WormsGrubs Worms

Appearance:

Grubs worms are the immature feeding stage, or larvae, of certain beetles which are short, thick, and shaped like the letter 'C'. Grubworms, like other white grubs, have a brown head and a cream-colored body. They have a characteristic “C” shape when found in the soil. The fact that they crawl around on their backs distinguishes them from most other white grub species. These white grubs are voracious feeders.

Size:

Grubworms are large at about 2-inches long.

Behavior:

Grubworms are voracious feeders, and in most cases are the larvae of Japanese beetles or Green June beetles. After the beetles mate during summer, they lay eggs, quit flying around, and die. Soon after, the eggs hatch. The grubworms feed in the soil during the warm days of fall. As the soil temperature falls, they burrow deeper to spend the winter. Depending on the weather, they may be higher or lower in the soil when spring arrives. Then they will be back up near the surface and feeding on grass roots again.

Habitat:

White grubs eat organic matter including the roots of plants. Therefore, damage first appears to be drought stress. Heavily infested turf appears off color, gray-green, and wilts rapidly in the hot sun. Continued feeding will cause the turf to die in large irregular patches. The tunneling of the larvae cause the turf to feel spongy under foot and the turf can often be rolled back like a loose carpet.

Chinch BugsChinch bugs

Appearance:

Chinch bugs have black bodies with silvery wings covering most of the back. The pattern of the wings and their overlap across the back gives them an hourglass or crossed-arms pattern. Juvenile chinch bugs progress from red to brown before finally becoming winged adults.

Size:

Range from 1/8 to 1/6-inch in length.

Behavior:

Female chinch bugs deposit over 250 eggs on average in their lifetime. They lay their eggs on grass close to where the plant contacts the soil. During the summer months the eggs hatch between 6 to 13 days, with an average period of 11 days. This process can last a month or more during the winter months. The eggs are small and oval shaped, with a blunt end from which four small projections extend.

Habitat:

Chinch bugs like hot, dry, sunny lawns. They cause extensive damage quickly, especially to St. Augustine grass. Lawns suffering from chinch bug infestation have large patches of irregular, yellowish, stunted, wilted grass. Chinch bugs suck the sap from grass blades, at the same time injuring the grass, causing it to wither and die (leaving brown areas of turf).

Interesting Facts:

To check for chinch bugs, push a bottomless can into the ground near the edge of a dead patch of lawn and fill it with water. If chinch bugs are present, they will usually float to the surface within a few minutes.

CentipedesCentipedes

Appearance:

Centipedes normally have a drab coloration combining shades of brown and red. Cavernicolous and subterranean species may lack pigmentation and many tropical Scolopendromorphs have bright aposematic colors.

Size:

Size can range from a few millimeters in the smaller Lithobiomorphs and Geophilomorphs to about 30 cm. in the largest Scolopendromorphs.

Behavior:

Centipede males deposit a spermatophore for the female to take up. In certain types of centipedes, this spermatophore is deposited in a web, and the male undertakes a courtship dance to encourage the female to engulf his sperm. In other cases, the males just leave them for the females to find. In temperate areas egg laying occurs in spring and summer but in subtropical and tropical areas there appears to be little seasonality to centipede breeding. The Lithobiomorpha, and Scutigeromorpha lay their eggs singly in holes in the soil, the female fills the hole in on the egg and leaves it. Number of eggs laid ranges from about 10 to 50. Time of development of the embryo to hatching is highly variable and may take from one to a few months.

Habitat:

Centipedes can be found in a wide variety of environments. They are found in soil and leaf litter, under stones and deadwood, inside logs, and other such places.

Interesting Facts:

A key trait uniting this group is a pair of venom claws or forcipules formed from a modified first appendage. This also means that centipedes are an exclusively predatory taxon, which is uncommon.

MillipedesMillipedes

Appearance:

Millipedes are brownish-black or mottled with shades of orange, red, or brown. They are cylindrical in shape or slightly flattened. Most have two pairs of legs per body segment, except for the first three segments which have only one pair of legs. Antennae are short, usually seven-segmented, and the head is rounded with no poison jaws. Their short legs ripple in waves as they glide over a surface. Millipedes often curl up into a tight "C" shape and remain motionless when touched.

Size:

Range from ½ to 1 ¼-inches in length.

Behavior:

Millipedes feed on living and decomposing vegetation and occasionally on dead snails, earthworms and insects. Slight feeding injury can occur on soft-stemmed plants, in gardens, and in greenhouses. They cannot tolerate water-saturated soil, which forces them to the surface and higher ground. Likewise, dry, drought conditions can stimulate migration.

Habitat:

Millipedes are attracted to dark, cool, and moist environments. They are nocturnal and often leave their natural habitats at night to crawl about over sidewalks, patios, and foundations. At certain times of the year, especially during fall, they may migrate into buildings in great numbers. Fall movement into structures appears to be accidental, occurring in the course of searching for humid sites (as a winter habitat). Migration into buildings also is common during spring and summer, in conjunction with periods of excessively wet or dry weather.

Interesting Facts:

Millipedes are not poisonous, but many species have glands capable of producing irritating fluids which may produce allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to insects or insect toxins. A few millipede species are capable of squirting these fluids over a distance of several inches. Persons handling millipedes will notice a lingering odor on their hands and the fluid can be dangerous to the eyes. It is not advisable to handle millipedes, but when one has been held, hands should be washed with soap and water until the odor is completely gone.

Mole CricketsMole crickets

Appearance:

Mole crickets are thick-bodied insects with large beady eyes and shovel-like forelimbs highly developed for burrowing and swimming. They are brown, tan, or reddish-brown in color. The adult mole cricket may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and is active most of the year.

Size:

Approximately 1 to 2 inches in length.

Behavior:

Mole crickets are serious pests of lawns, and they are prevalent throughout Florida. They are recognized by their large, shovel-like front legs that resemble those of moles. Adult mole crickets can fly and are attracted to exterior lights.

Habitat:

Mole crickets are relatively common, but because they are nocturnal and spend nearly all their lives underground in extensive tunnel systems they are rarely seen. They inhabit agricultural fields, rice paddies, lawns, and golf courses. Five out of the seven species present in North America are immigrants from Europe, Asia, and South America, and are commonly considered pests.

Damage Caused:

Mole crickets can damage plants by feeding at night on aboveground foliage or stem tissue and belowground on roots and tubers. Seedlings may be girdled at the stems near the soil surface, though some plants may be completely severed and pulled into a tunnel to be eaten. Mole cricket tunneling near the soil surface dislodges plants or causes them to dry out. Tunneling reduces the aesthetic quality of turfgrass, interferes with the roll of the ball on golf courses, and results in reduced livestock grazing on severely infested pastures.

Plaster BagwormsPlaster Bagworms

Appearance:

Plaster bagworms are similar in appearance and closely related to clothes moths. The larvae of bagworms live in a flattened, gray, watermelon seed-shaped case about ½-inch long. The case is constructed of silken fiber and sand particles, lint, paint fragments, and other debris. The case has a slit-like opening at each end, and the larva is able to move around and feed from either end.

Behavior:

Plaster Bagworm cases, constructed by the larval or caterpillar stage, often attract attention when found in Florida homes. However, usually only the empty larval or pupal cases are found on walls of houses. The larvae mainly feed on spider webs; however, they will also feed on fabrics made of natural fiber as well.

Habitat:

Plaster bagworms are easily seen on light-colored walls. Close examination of the house may reveal bagworms attached to the underside of chairs, bookcases, and other furniture. They are often found along the edge of rugs, near baseboards, or on the lower edges of walls. Bagworms are quite common in garages and underneath buildings.

Interesting Facts:

The Plaster bagworm is also known as the Household casebearer.

MitesMites

Appearance:

Most mites are oval shaped, without antennae, and grayish-black to red in color. Their mouthparts are grouped in front of the body, resembling a head. Adult mites have four pairs of legs. Some mites appear as barely visible red and gray, slow-moving specks, while others are microscopic.

Size:

Mites are very small, and most range from 1/200 to 1/25-inch in length.

Behavior:

Many species of mites are serious pests of agricultural crops, either through direct damage or indirectly as vectors of plant pathogens. Other species are parasitic on domestic animals and cause losses in meat, egg, and fiber production. Others, such as the human itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, are not direct agents of human disease or vectors of pathogens, although they can cause intense itching and allergic reactions requiring medical attention.

Interesting Facts:

House Dust mites are a major source of allergies.

WaspsWasps
Wasps are most common around a variety of structures. Most are social insects that live in colonies, and they aggressively defend their nests by stinging. Wasps can become a problem in autumn when they may disrupt outdoor activities, but otherwise are considered nuisance insects.
Wasps, order Hymenoptera, are generally 1-2 inches long, slender, narrow-waisted with long legs and are usually reddish-orange to brown or black in color. They also appear smooth-skinned and shiny. Unlike bees, which can only sting once before dying, wasps can sting repeatedly and will often do so if they feel threatened or if they are defending their nest. However, they are not overly-aggressive and will not attack humans unless provoked. Only females have the ability to sting.

Cicada killerCicada killer

Appearance:

Cicada killer wasps have a black body with yellow marks across the thorax and abdomen. They have a large stinger, and the sting can be very painful.

Size:

Cicada killer wasps are very large, between 1 1/8 and 1 5/8 inches long.

Behavior:

Cicada killers are solitary wasps. Males tunnel out of the ground to select a new territory for mating. Shortly after mating, females dig deep burrows, and upon completion seek out a cicada, paralyze it with a sting, and lay an egg on the paralyzed body. Within two weeks, the egg hatches into a larva, eats the cicada, and develops into a pre-pupal stage over winter. Adults emerge in the spring to repeat the cycle.

Habitat:

Cicada killer wasps prefer areas with little or no vegetation, and will nest in lawns, parks, sandy lots, or the edges of forests. They will be more prevalent in areas where annual cicadas are present.

Interesting Facts:

Cicada Killer wasps are large, sometimes reaching up to two inches, but rarely attack and do not provoke easily. Instead, they tend to concentrate on hunting their namesake prey, the cicada. They paralyze the cicadas by stinging them, and then drag them back to their earthen burrow for the wasp larvae to feed. Cicada Killer wasps are solitary insects that feed on nectar and sap. They prefer to build their nests by digging a hole in dry, soft soil and building a burrow in areas of sparse vegetation such as golf course sand traps, which can be problematic. In spite of their large size, the wasps usually ignore people but they can give a painful sting if bothered. Mating males are aggressive and more easily disturbed.
Female Cicada Killers feed, mate, and construct burrows for several weeks before beginning their hunt for cicadas in July and August. After capturing the cicada, the wasp carries it to the burrow, sealing one or two into each egg cell. The wasp eggs hatch and the larvae begin to feed on the paralyzed cicadas, allowing them to develop into wasps the following summer. Unlike other stinging pests, they live independently rather than in colonies and do not depend on other members of a colony to share in the raising of young or the maintaining of a nest.

Paper WaspsPaper Wasps

Size/Appearance:

Range from ¾ to 1-inch in length. Paper wasps are reddish-orange to dark brown or black in color. They have yellowish markings on the abdomen. Paper wasps are long and slender with a narrow waist.

Behavior:

Paper wasps are social insects, living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males. Queens emerge during April or May, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which the eggs are laid. Adults feed on nectar or other sugary solutions, and bits of caterpillars or flies that are caught and partially chewed to be fed to their young.

Habitat:

A Paper wasp nest is a round, upside-down paper comb that is attached by a single stalk to a horizontal surface. This paper nest resembles an umbrella, hence this wasp's nickname: "umbrella wasp". Paper wasps will build their nests under awnings, beneath decks, under porches, in the corners of windows, and beneath soffits. They will also sometimes nest in attics, gas grills, hose reels, and electric outlet boxes.

Interesting Facts:

Paper wasps present a hazard when they build their nests near homes or structures because of their painful sting. The Paper wasp is known by most Floridians by the sight of their nest, which is grayish-brown and looks like an upside-down umbrella and often attached to ledges and eaves by a thin stem. Paper wasps are predators of plant-feeding pests, such as aphids and mealybugs, but will also feed on nectar and other sugary substances. Paper wasps are so named because their nests are made of paper fibers collected from dry wood and bark and mixed with the wasps' saliva. In each paper-fiber nest there are one or more combs, or densely packed arrays of larval cells. The adults are usually found congregating on the combs, and the heads of the larvae are visible from the outside. This is the familiar open nest that may house hundreds or thousands of individuals.

Mud DaubersMud Daubers

Description:

Adult mud daubers are 3/4 to 1 inch long wasps, varying in color by species from dull black to black with bright yellow markings to iridescent blue-black. The best identifying feature is the longer, narrow "waist" (petiole - the section between the thorax and abdomen).

Life Cycle:

These are solitary wasp species, with nests constructed and provisioned by individual mated females. Eggs of mud daubers are laid singly on hosts in cells in mud nests provisioned with food, sealed and abandoned. Larvae grow up to 1 inch long and are cream-colored, legless and maggot-like. They pupate in cocoons within the cells and overwinter in nests. There can be several generations annually.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage:

Mud daubers (Sphecidae) build small nests of mud under overhangs like eaves of buildings. The pipe organ mud dauber, Trypoxylon politum (Say) mud nests of long parallel tubes and provision their nests with spiders. The black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium (Drury), constructs a globular nest containing one cell to several cells, also provisioned with paralyzed spiders. Adults are commonly seen in wet spots, balls of mud for building their nests. The iridescent blue mud dauber, Chalybion californicum (Saussure), takes over nests of the black and yellow mud dauber. It provisions its nest mostly with black widow spiders.

Pest Status:

Mud daubers (Sphecidae) and potter or mason wasps (Eumeninae) are solitary wasp species; although capable of stinging, they are rarely aggressive. Mud dauber nests can be a nuisance in garages, under eaves and in other buildings.

FlyFly

Description:

The fly is perhaps one of the most annoying pests you will ever encounter. Many flies, such as the house fly, are associated with over 100 pathogens. These pathogens can cause disease in humans and animals, including: typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, hepatitis, polio, and tuberculosis. Sanitation is a critical part of controlling these pests. Flies belong to the Order Diptera and there are over 16,000 species of flies in North America alone. They are easily distinguished from other insects because they have only 1 pair of normal wings. The second pair is represented by 2 knobbed organs called halteres. The halteres are thought to be organs which help stabilize the insect while in flight. Flies exhibit complete metamorphosis: egg, larvae (maggot), pupa and adult. The larvae of most species, called maggots, are soft, legless and headless. These maggots live in soil, decaying material, or as parasites of vertebrates, snails or other insects.
For every fly seen, it is estimated that there are 19 more hidden from view. That means humans don’t even see 95% of flies present at an infestation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that flies contaminate or destroy $10 billion of agricultural products each year.

Interesting Fly Facts:

  • Flies have some of the most complex eyes in the insect world. They have compound eyes with many individual facets, each representing a separate light-detecting unit. The eyes of a fly do not have eyelids, so flies rub their eyes with their feet to keep them clean.
  • Flies taste, smell, and feel with the hairs that cover their bodies. The hairs on the fly's mouth parts and feet are used for tasting. Flies taste what they walk on. If they walk onto something tasty, they put down their mouth and taste it again.
  • Flies walk on smooth surfaces using sticky soft pads that act like glue. This allows them to walk on vertical glass surfaces and upside down.

Drain FliesDrain Flies

Appearance:

Drain flies are brown or black in color. Their body and wings are densely covered with hairs, which gives them a fuzzy appearance. They are frequently mistaken for small moths since the wings are held roof-like over the body when at rest (hence the common name “moth fly”).

Size:

Range from 1/6 to 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

Drain flies are often associated with drains and are common at sewage treatment facilities. They are weak fliers and often appear to be jumping or hopping. Flight and mating activities normally occur in the evening hours when they are attracted to lights. Each female can produce around 100 eggs, and under optimum conditions development can be completed in about 2 weeks.

Habitat:

Drain flies may be found around bathrooms or kitchen sinks. They are common around wet areas and can even breed in sink and bathroom drain traps, in spite of the hot water, soap, and other debris that flow through them.

Health Concerns:

Bronchial asthma can be caused by inhaling fragments of dust from dead flies. Since Drain flies originate in filthy conditions, there is the possibility of disease transmission.

Flesh FliesFlesh Flies

Appearance:

Flesh flies usually have gray bodies with three black stripes on the thorax. The abdomen has a light and dark gray checkerboard pattern and is often red at the tip. Their eyes are usually red.

Size:

Range from 3/8 to 1/2-inch in length.

Behavior:

Flesh flies are scavengers. Their preferred breeding areas are decayed flesh, spoiling meat, and manure. Garbage can meat scraps and dog food left outside are possible sources of flesh fly breeding. Flesh flies can breed in dead rodents and birds, and inside attics or wall voids of houses.

Habitat:

Flesh flies are extremely common and are attracted to buildings by food odors. The sudden emergence of many flesh flies within a building could mean there is a dead rodent, bird, or other animal in the wall, ceiling, or attic.

Health Concerns:

Maggots from these flies are used by forensic entomologists to establish the time of death in murder cases.

Fruit FliesFruit Flies

Appearance:

The front portion of the Fruit fly body is tan and the rear portion is black. They have red eyes and wings that fold flat over the body.

Size:

Fruit flies are small at about 1/8-inch long.

Behavior:

Fruit flies are usually carried on fruits and vegetables. They are also called “vinegar flies” since they often infest facilities producing vinegar.
Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. This surface-feeding characteristic of the larvae is significant in that damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae.

Habitat:

Fruit flies are common in homes, restaurants, supermarkets, and anywhere else food is served. Tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes and other perishable items brought in from the garden are often the cause of an infestation developing indoors. Fruit flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions, and other non-refrigerated produce purchased at the grocery store. It is common to see infestations in dumpsters.

Characteristics:

The reproductive potential of Fruit flies is enormous. Given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs in just a short time period. The entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week.

Fungus GnatsFungus Gnats

Appearance:

Most species of Fungus gnats are black in color. Their identifying characteristics are long legs and long thin wings.

Size:

These small flies range from 1/16 to 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

Fungus gnats are very small and can be an extreme nuisance. They are attracted to sunlight and also people’s colognes or perfumes.
Fungus gnats prefer to lay their eggs in moist potting soil, which is why buildings containing potted plants or atriums may often have problems. Soon after the eggs are laid, the larvae emerge to feed on fungus growing in the damp potting soil. After feeding for a short period the larvae pupate. A few days after pupating, the adult Fungus gnats emerge.

Habitat:

Fungus gnats may breed anywhere that suitable molds might grow. A Fungus gnat infestation in a home could mean a moisture problem is present. Although fungus grows in areas such as moist wood (the result of leaks or poor insulation) and poorly ventilated crawlspaces and attics, most infestations are associated with moist potting soil. Look for adult Fungus gnats in areas where moisture problems have been observed or are suspected; fungus gnat eggs and larvae are more often not on the exposed surface of soil and are too small to see without good magnification.

Interesting Facts:

Fungus gnat larvae feed on highly organic soils and can damage the roots of bedding plants, African violets, carnations, poinsettias, and foliage plants.

Green Bottle FliesGreen Bottle Flies

Appearance:

Green Bottle flies are a common blowfly and are slightly larger than House flies. They have brilliant, metallic, blue-green or golden coloration with black markings. They also have black bristle-like hair and three cross-grooves on the thorax. The wings are clear with light brown veins, and the legs and antennae are black.

Size:

Range from 1/4 to 3/8-inch in length.

Behavior:

Green Bottle flies are scavengers and are part of the decomposition process. They lay a mass of up to 180 eggs in wounds, carcasses, or necrotic tissue. Pale yellow or grayish-white larvae hatch in half a day to three days, and begin feeding on the decomposing animal matter they were hatched in. They are fully grown in two to ten days, when they will seek soil (in which they will burrow) to pupate. The adults emerge to mate, beginning the cycle again. During cold weather pupae and adults can hibernate until warmer temperatures revive them.

Habitat:

The Green Bottle fly is very common around dumpsters. It lays its eggs almost exclusively in dead or rotting flesh. It is usually the first insect attracted to a fresh carcass, sometimes within minutes of death. Maggots from these flies are used by forensic entomologists to establish the time of death.

Interesting Facts:

It was on the battlefield, a few centuries ago, that the healing powers of maggots were first noted. Physicians observed with amazement that soldiers with deep, gaping, maggot-infested wounds recovered more quickly and in greater numbers than did the soldiers whom they had elected to treat.

House FliesHouse Flies

Appearance:

The common house fly is a pest all over the world. The adult has the fourth wing vein sharply angled and four length-wise dark stripes on the top of the thorax. Its face has two velvety stripes which are silver above and gold below, and the body is gray in color.

Size:

Approximately 1/4-inch in length.

Behavior:

House flies are the most common fly in the world. They are a possible health risk since they are often found in garbage and manure. They have sponging mouthparts so they cannot eat solid food. House flies regurgitate digestive fluids onto food and then sponge up the digested liquid meal.
Each adult female begins laying eggs a few days after hatching, laying a total of five to six batches of 75 to 100 small white oval eggs. In warm weather these hatch in 12 to 24 hours into cream-colored larvae (maggots) which burrow into the food material on which they hatched. These larvae grow and pupate in 4 to 7 days in warm weather. The mature larva contracts until its skin forms a case about 1/4 inch long. Inside this case, the true pupa forms. When fully formed, the adult fly breaks open the end of the pupal case and emerges. It is ready to mate within in a few hours after merging.

Habitat:

Dog manure on lawns that has been left out for days can become a significant breeding site for house flies. Indoors house flies have been seen breeding in trash containers that have not been cleaned for a while and also in rotting vegetables. House flies will rest on floors, walls, and ceilings during the day. Night resting places are usually near sources of food.

Health Concerns:

Pathogens carried by house flies can cause disease in humans and animals, including: typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, hepatitis, polio, and tuberculosis.

Phorid FliesPhorid Flies

Appearance:

Phorid flies are tan brown in color with black eyes. They resemble Fruit flies in appearance, but they lack the red eye color that Fruit flies have. The most prominent feature of this fly is the humpbacked shape of its thorax. The severe arch of the thorax gives it the common nickname of “humpbacked fly.” Phorid flies run rapidly across surfaces instead of immediately flying when disturbed.

Size:

: 1/8-inch long

Behavior:

The reproductive potential of Phorid flies is tremendous and very large numbers of them may appear in a short time. Adult flies are strong fliers and have been known to travel as far as 6 miles within a 24 hour period.

Habitat:

Phorid flies can breed in more types of materials than any other house infesting fly. They primarily breed in and feed on moist decaying organic matter. Phorid flies are common around homes and businesses where food is served. Because it frequents unsanitary areas (with the ability to spread disease causing bacteria onto food products), this fly is of particular concern to hospitals, healthcare facilities, and restaurants.

Interesting Facts:

The Phorid fly, a natural enemy of the fire ant, will be recruited this spring across southern states in an effort to control the destructive ant. The Phorid fly is a fierce enemy and decapitates the fire ants.

Stable FliesStable Flies

Appearance:

Stable flies are often mistaken for House flies. However, Stable flies have piercing-sucking mouthparts and House flies have a sponging type. Stable flies are brownish-gray in color and the abdomen has a checkered appearance.

Size:

Approximately ¼ inch long.

Behavior:

The Stable fly is a blood-sucking fly which is of considerable importance to people, pets, livestock, and the tourist industry in Florida. Stable flies primarily attack animals for a blood meal, but in the absence of an animal host will also bite man.
Stable flies breed in soggy hay, grasses, piles of moist fermenting weed, grass cuttings, peanut litter, seaweed deposits along beaches, in soiled straw bedding, and sometimes in hay ring feeding sites. The female, when depositing eggs will often crawl into loose material. Each female fly may lay 500 to 600 eggs in 4 separate batches. Eggs are small and white. Eggs hatch in 2 to 5 days into larvae which feed and mature in 14 to 26 days. Larvae are typical maggots and transform to small reddish-brown capsules (pupae) from which the adult flies emerge. The average life cycle is 28 days.

Habitat:

Certain regions of the United States have considerable problems with large numbers of stable flies attacking man. The coastal part of New Jersey, shores of Lake Superior and Michigan, and West Florida are areas that historically have had severe stable fly problems. Although these areas have the most severe stable fly problems, the fly is numerous throughout Florida.

Interesting Facts:

It takes a Stable fly about 2 to 5 minutes to feed to engorgement.

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