Occasional Invaders

Varied Carpet Beetles (Anthrenus verbasci)

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Varied Carpet beetles get their name from the rainbow of color on their back surfaces.

Color: Black centers, with white, brown and yellow patches in an irregular arrangement

Legs: 6

Shape: Round

Size: 1/16

Habits

These pests enjoy dining on carpets, woolen fabrics, dead insects, fur, hides, feathers, horns, hair, silk and bones. It can take 249-354 days to three years for varied carpet beetles to grow from and egg to an adult.

Habitat

Varied carpet beetles are found in homes in attics, Oriental carpets, tapestries and wood-based wall-to-wall carpeting.

Threats

Varied carpet beetles feed on dead insects, but also feed on upholstery and carpet, so they can damage those materials. They can also damage clothing fabric.

Prevention

As with moths, to avoid varied carpet beetle infestations, store clothing in plastic containers. Dry clean clothing thoroughly before storing for long periods of time.

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina Linnaeus)

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Silverfish are wingless, flattened, fish-shaped insects, usually no more than ½ inches long. They have long antennae and three threadlike appendages at the end of the abdomen. They have chewing mouthparts and develop without metamorphosis.

Color: Silver

Legs: 6

Shape: Carrot or fish shaped

Size: Not more than ½ inch

Habits

Silverfish usually enter a structure through insulation during construction. They eat a wide variety of foods containing starches and carbohydrates such as rolled oats, dried beef, flour, starch, paper, cotton, some synthetic fibers, sugar, beef extract, dead insects, glue, paste and linen. They can also feed on surface molds in damp areas. They can live long periods of time without food. Eggs are laid in protected areas, such as behind baseboards, and hatch in from 20 to 40 days depending on temperature and humidity.

Habitat

Silverfish prefer temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees, moist situations and can be found most anywhere in a house. They are commonly found in attics especially if there are boxes of books.

Threats

They can do considerable damage to some natural and synthetic fibers, books, and other paper products. Their feeding marks are irregular and often appear as a surface etching that may not even penetrate paper. They may also leave yellow stains, especially on linens.

Prevention

Silverfish are unable to reproduce or even to survive in building where winter heating and moisture loss results in low relative humidity. Airtight houses with efficient humidifiers that keep the relative humidity above 50% year-round can develop silverfish infestations that are very difficult to control using typical insecticide applications. To achieve control under those conditions, the relative humidity will need to be reduced. Besides cleanup of clutter and other food items that may be supporting the infestation, insecticide applications are required for silverfish management.

Pillbugs (Armadillilium vulgare)

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This pest is the only crustacean that has become completely adapted to spending its life on land. Pillbugs have oval bodies and seven pairs of legs. They are easily recognized by their back, which is made up of seven hard individual plates. Pillbugs are sometimes referred to as rollie-pollies.

Color: Dark brown to black

Legs: Seven pair

Shape: Oval; round when rolled up

Size: ¾”

Habits

Pillbugs eat decaying vegetable material and are most active at night. They are known for their ability to roll into a ball.

Habitat

Pillbugs live in moist locations. They are found under damp objects or under vegetable debris.

Threats

Pillbugs do not spread diseases or invade food products. However, the pillbug is often considered a pest when it gains entry into a home.

Prevention

Pillbugs can be avoided by eliminating food sources such as vegetable or plant debris. If Pillbugs enter a structure, they will often dry out and die.

Lady Beetle (Order coleoptera)

American Cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana)

This large family of beetles includes some of the most beneficial insects.

Color: Red or orange wing pads with black spots

Legs: 6

Shape: Round to oval

Size: 1/4th inch long

Habits

They are predators as adults and larvae on plant-feeding pests such as aphids, scale insects, and many others that attach trees, shrubs, flowers, or vegetables in the garden.

Habitat

A few species, such as the multicolored Asian Lady beetle congregate on the outside of buildings in autumn and then enter wall voids or attics to hibernate over the winter. Their success in feeding and reproducing occurs outdoors and is associated with trees, wooded areas, gardens, and so forth.

Threats

Lady beetles will not feed on or otherwise damage anything on the exterior surfaces of or inside buildings. They become pests in and around homes or other buildings merely because of their presence.

Prevention

Once exclusion techniques such as caulking around the frames of windows and doors have been considered and implemented, it is best to remove the congregating beetles (e.g. vacuuming or sweeping them up).

Indian Meal Moths (Plodia interpuctella)

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The Indian meal moth was given its name after an insect scientist found it feeding on corn meal, also known as Indian meal. From wing tip to wing tip, adult moths measure from five-eighths of an inch to three-fourths of an inch long.

Color: Copper reddish coloring on outer part of wings

Legs: 6

Shape: Elongated oval

Size: 5/8”

Habits

These moths like to feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate candies, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, dried peppers and candy.

Habitat

Attracted to the light, these bugs are found worldwide in areas where food is stored, such as grocery stores.

Threats

Indian Meal Moths infest foods and contaminate food products.

Prevention

Dried food products should be inspected thoroughly for signs of moth infestations. Discard infested foods in outdoor trash bins. Clean infested cupboards thoroughly with a vacuum and soap and water. Store food in sealed containers.

House Centipede (Scutigera coleopteran)

Culpepper Services

The house centipede is a common pest in many parts of the United States. Unlike most other centipedes, this species generally lives its entire life inside a building

Color: Grayish yellow with 3 dark stripes

Legs: 30

Shape: long thin body with very long legs

Size: 1-1.5 inches

Habits

Centipedes develop by gradual metamorphosis, so immature have a similar appearance to adults but are smaller. All life stages can be observed running rapidly across floors or accidentally trapped in bathtubs, sinks, and lavatories. The house centipede forages at night for small insects and their larvae, and for spiders.

Habitat

In homes, the house centipede prefers to live in damp areas, such as cellars, closets, bathrooms, attics (during warmer months), and unexcavated areas under the house. Eggs are laid in these same damp places, as well as behind baseboards or beneath bark on firewood.

Threats

Although this centipede can bite, its jaws are quite weak. There usually is not more than a slight swelling if a bite occurs. From an entomological point of view, they could be considered beneficial. Most homeowners, however, usually take a different point of view and insist that they be eliminated.

Prevention

Using dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas to keep moisture content of the air below 55% relative humidity will aid in controlling this pest. Also eliminating spiders and other small pests through vacuuming will help aid control.

Earwigs (Order Dermaptera)

Culpepper Services

Earwigs got their name from the myth that they crawl into sleeping people’s ears and tunnel into their brains. The long cerci, or clippers, on their backsides easily identify an earwig

Color: Dark brown

Legs: 6

Shape: Long, narrow

Size: ½ -3/4 of an inch


Habits

Earwigs hide during the day and feeds on leaves, flowers, fruits, mold and insects at night.

Habitat

These insects live together outdoors in large numbers. They can be found under piles of lawn debris, mulch or in tree holes. They gain entry to a structure through exterior cracks.

Threats

Contrary to folklore, earwigs do not crawl into ears and eat people’s brains at night. They do not spread diseases, but their menacing appearance can be alarming to a homeowner.

Prevention

Remove harborage sites such as leaf piles, mulch piles or other vegetation. Seal cracks and crevices well to prevent structural entry.