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LEARNING CENTER
 
Seasonal Pest Information
Spring / Summer
  • Summer is also a very active time of year for insects. Depending on the humidity and temperature, termites continue to swarm well into the summer months. Ants will also continue to swarm well into July.
  • Cockroaches are seen more frequently indoors during summer because they are searching out more favorable conditions such as moisture and lower temperatures.
  • Isopods (pillbugs) continue to be active in the soil around homes as well as millipedes, centipedes, and springtails.

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Fall / Winter
  • Most insects are not active in the fall and winter, however many pests can still be active in and around your home.
  • Rodents are especially problematic due to colder temperatures outside and warm, cozy homes inside.
  • The true southern yellow jacket (paper wasp) is very common in the fall and winter months.
  • Cockroaches are always a challenge because of our climate-controlled homes as well as structure-infesting ants.

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All Year
  • Due to Mississippi's mild climate, insects are active virtually year round.
  • The ever-present mosquito is found nearly year round in Mississippi. Different species are found during different times of the year, but they all inhabit water as larvae.
  • Cockroaches, silverfish, and spiders are commonly found in homes all year.
  • Ants such as pharaoh ants, little black ants, and other ants can be seen year round in homes.
  • Flies, gnats, and other flying insects are also common in homes all year.

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Pest Information
Cockroaches
  • Cockroaches have been on earth for a very long time - somewhere around 350 million years! There are a variety of species, they're very adaptable and reproduce very fast.
  • Most species prefer to live in moist, dark places.
  • Cockroaches are omnivorous, which means that they tend to eat whatever they can find. This is one reason why they have become so successful.
  • Cockroaches produce egg cases, or oothecae, for their young to mature in. Once the eggs inside the egg case hatch, the young cockroaches (nymphs) will break open the egg case and emerge.

Some of their species include:

A. German Cockroaches
  • Most commonly found in homes and commercial establishments. They are usually detected in kitchens, bathrooms or areas with daily access to water.
  • Small in size, tan in color and have two longitudinal black stripes on their pronotum - the shield-like plate that covers the head (if you are looking down on the cockroach
  • They enjoy humid environments with a temperature around 70F.
  • They are able to produce offspring year round indoors. These females actually carry the egg case (ootheca) with them until a few hours before the nymphal cockroaches are ready to emerge. Each German cockroach ootheca holds between 25-40 cockroaches.

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B. Brown-banded Cockroaches
  • Brown-banded cockroaches are usually found in homes and commercial establishment such as office buildings. They like high locations (shelves, behind pictures, etc.)
  • Tan in color. They have a yellowish stripe on their pronotum - the shield-like plate that covers the head (if you are looking down on the cockroach
  • Brown-bandeds will fly when they are disturbed.
  • These cockroaches like environments with a temperature around 80F.
  • They are able to produce offspring year round indoors. The females attach their egg cases (ootheca) on walls or ceilings. Brown-banded cockroach ootheca hold between 12-20 cockroaches.  

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C. American Cockroaches
  • Often called "Palmetto Bugs", these are large cockroaches with a reddish-brown coloring.
  • They have yellowish-tan markings on their pronotum - the shield-like plate that covers the head (if you are looking down on the cockroach).
  • The nymphs, or baby cockroaches, are also a reddish-brown color. Oothecae (egg case) are often glued to a surface and hold 6-14 nymphs.
  • Tend to move into the home when the conditions outside become unfavorable (extreme temperatures, excessive rain, etc.)

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D. Smoky Brown Cockroaches
  • Smoky brown cockroaches are a dark reddish-brown or mahogany color.
  • They do not have any yellowish or tan markings on the pronotum.
  • The nymphs are black with white markings in early stages and then become reddish-brown as they mature.
  • These cockroaches can be located in treeholes, building gutters, soffits in houses or mulch beds. Smoky browns are generally an outside inhabiting species, but indoors are frequently found in attics.
  •  Female Smoky browns drop their ootheca (egg case) and cover it with fecal material or debris to camouflage. The egg case holds around 18 nymphs.

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Termites
  • Pale-colored, soft-bodied social insects with equal-sized wings. They live primarily in underground colonies.
  • Termite colonies consist of:
    Primary reproductives } Function of reproducing and laying eggs
    Secondary reproductives
    Soldiers - defend the colony / nest from invaders
    Workers - forage for food and feed their nutrients to the rest of the colony

Colony sizes are variable and can easily reach over one million termites.

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  • Termites are constantly foraging for food. Workers will leave a pheromone trail while they are foraging. This trail allows other termites to also locate the food source.
  • Termites eat material that contain cellulose, such as wood, roots, plant debris, paper or cardboard. Termites have protozoa in their hindgut; it helps them to break down the cellulose into usable nutrients. If these protozoa are removed from the digestive tract, the termite will eventually die of starvation because it can no longer break down the cellulose. The nutrients are passed throughout the colony by trophallaxis - an exchange of secretions or partially digested food between termite workers and other colony members.
  • Termites can gain entrance into a structure through any part of the wood frame in contact with the ground, through openings in the foundation around pipes and conduits or through cracks in the foundation. Termites can enter through cracks that are no wider than 1/64 of an inch.
  • Subterranean termites require moisture to survive. They will create mud tubes to obtain access to a structure that is above ground. These tubes are created from soil cemented with secretions and fecal material. The tubes are to protect the termites from exposure to sunlight or dry conditions. Termites are able to survive in a structure without contact to the ground if there is a sufficient moisture source.  

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Ants
  • Ants are social insects. They live in colonies and have a caste system consisting of a) Queen - lays the eggs b) Workers - tend the young, build and repair the nest, forage for food and defend the colony from invaders c) immatures d) males - these are "produced" at times for mating with reproductive females
  • Ants are related to wasps and bees. They have a pinched waist and elbowed antennae. They also may have a modified ovipositor, or stinger. The stinger is attached to a poison gland and can allow the ant to inject venom. Ants will use the stinger in defense of the colony.
  • Ants are primarily beneficial insects - they help to recycle decaying organic matter. Ants also feed on pest insects.

Some of their species include:

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A. Fire Ants
  • Red imported fire ants are a reddish to blackish color. They have two nodes and have 10-segmented antennae with the last two segments forming a club.
  • Fire ants are very aggressive; they are very protective against any perceived threat to their colony and will outcompete any other ant specie for food.
  • Fire ants have multiple queen colonies, which causes mounds to be more numerous and closer together.  

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B. Odorous House Ants
  • Odorous house ants are brown or black in color.
  • They have 12-segmented antennae and one node that is almost hidden by part of the abdomen.
  • Colonies have multiple queens and can be located underground of above ground. Outside, these ants will nest in soil often below stones or boards, or in piles of debris or firewood.
  • Odorous house ants usually move inside after it rains since the rain limits their food supply outside.

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C. Pharaoh Ants
  • Pharaoh ants are small ants with a yellowish-red color.
  • The queen is larger and reddish-brown color.
  • This species of ant will place its nest just about anywhere. They will nest in any crack that is suitable to their needs. They prefer to be near a water source. They have also been found behind baseboards, under carpet, in planters and in electrical outlets. Nests may also be located outside in piles of debris, under shingles of roofs or in house gutters.
  • Pharaoh ants forage most actively at night. They will lay down a pheromone trail from their nest to a food source so that other ants from the same colony can also exploit the food source. These ants will travel along pipes and wiring that are located in walls to obtain access to different rooms.
  • Pharaoh ant colonies have multiple queens and new colonies are formed by budding. Budding is when groups of workers take eggs, larvae and pupae to a new location.

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D. Crazy Ants
  • Crazy ants are small, blackish ants. They have very long legs and antennae. These ants are often seen running about in an erratic manner, giving them the name "crazy ant".
  • Colonies of crazy ants can be small or large and contain multiple queens.
  • Crazy ants will produce new colonies by budding or mating swarms.

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E. Carpenter Ants 
  • Carpenter ants are fairly large ants ranging from to of an inch in length.
  • They can be colored black, red or a mixture of the two.
  • This ant specie nests primarily under rocks, in tree holes or in insect-damaged wood. Carpenter ants create smooth galleries in wood that has been damaged by fungi or insects.
  • A carpenter ant colony may have several satellite nests consisting of workers, mature larvae, pupae and winged alates. New colonies are formed by nuptial flights.

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Bees & Wasps
  • Bees and wasps are actually beneficial social insects Bees have fuzzy / hairy bodies; wasps don't.
  • Bees feed on pollen and nectar from flowers. Wasps usually feed on other insects or spiders.
  • Bees can only sting one time because they have a barbed stinger, which pulls out the stinger, poison gland and guts. Wasps are able to sting repeatedly since they do not have a barbed stinger.

Some of their species include:

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A. Paper Wasps
  • Paper wasps receive their name from the paper-like nest they build. These nests can be found under the eaves of houses, under branches of trees and shrubs, under decks or inside pipes.
  • Paper wasps do not have a caste system with a sterile worker class. There is one dominant female, which lays eggs, and the others tend to the young. The dominant female is usually the nest initiator.
  • This species of wasps is variable in color. They can be brown, black, orange or yellow. In addition, their bodies may or may not have stripes.

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B. Yellow jackets
  • Yellow jackets can nest in wall voids, attics, in trees and shrubs, or in the ground.
  • They are social insects. They have a worker caste that cares for the young and forages for food.
  • Adult yellowjackets will feed on fruit and nectar from plants while the larvae are fed insects or carrion.

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C. Honey Bees
  • Honey bees are very important in pollination of crops.
  • Honey bees are social insects that live in colonies. There is a queen that is responsible for producing eggs. The worker caste is made up of sterile females who build and repair the nest, forage for food and tend to the young. Males are called drones and are produced for mating with reproductive females.
  • Honey bees are small and fuzzy. They are usually yellow and black striped.

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D. Carpenter Bees
  • These bees are large and often confused with bumble bees. Bumble bees are fuzzy with yellow and black coloration.
  • Carpenter bees have a fuzzy head and thorax that are colored yellow and black
  • These bees are solitary and create their nest in wood.
  • They create the galleries by chewing through the wood with their mandibles. The carpenter bee will place "bee bread", a mix of pollen and nectar, in the gallery and then lay an egg. Once the egg hatches, the larvae will feed on the bee bread.

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Silverfish
  • Silverfish are considered a nuisance pest. They prefer to live in moist, dark areas.
  • Silverfish are gray or silver in color with three tail-like appendages projecting from the tip of their abdomen. Silverfish also have long antennae and flattened bodies. Both the adults and nymphs lack wings.
  • Silver fish will travel long distances to locate a food source. Once a good source of food is located, they will stay in that same area.
  • Silverfish damage is recognizable by irregular feeding marks and sometimes the presence of scales, fecal material or yellowish stains.

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For more extensive information on pest biology check out Pestweb

 
Spiders
  • Spiders are arachnids and have two body segments, eight legs, no antennae and a pair of chelicerae, or fangs.
  • Spiders are actually beneficial since they eat insects and other arthropods
  • All spiders have poison glands, but not all of their poisons react with our body chemistry in such a way that is detrimental to our health. A non-poisonous spider may bite people and reddening and swelling may occur.
  • Poisonous spiders that are located in this area are the black widow and brown recluse.

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A. Black Widow Spider
  • These spiders are black with red of orange markings on the underside of the abdomen. The marking is often in the shape of an hourglass.
  • Females are about an inch in length while males are about an inch in length.
  • Most of the time, the female black widow will consume the male after mating.
  • The female will create an egg sac that contains around 300-400 eggs. She will be more likely to bite if she has just created the egg sac since this uses a lot of her energy and she will be hungry.
  • Black widows' a venom is a neurotoxin - the venom will go into your nervous system. Usually, there is no reaction at the site of the bite. Fatalities from a black widow bite are rare, but small children and the elderly are at highest risk. When first bitten, the bite may not be noticed or feel as if you're being poked with a pin. This may be followed by a dull pain and cramps, often in the abdomen. As symptoms progress, one may experience sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting and tremors. A victim may also undergo difficulty in breathing.  

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B. Brown Recluse Spider
  • Brown recluse spiders are tan with a dark brown fiddle-shaped marking on their cephalothorax.
  • They are fairly small spiders, only reaching to of an inch in length.
  • These spiders are typically found outside in debris, wood piles or under bark, stones or logs. They can be located indoors, usually in storage areas such as closets or attics.
  • Brown recluses are nocturnal. They feed upon insects that are soft-bodied such as cockroaches, silverfish or crickets.
  • Bites to humans generally occur when a spider gets into shoes or clothing or crawls into bedding. Brown recluse venom causes necrosis, or tissue death, at the site of the bite. The effects are usually localized. The initial bite is usually painless, but a burning sensation develops at the site in about 30-60 minutes. The bite site will begin to redden and enlarge. A blister full of pus will form in the center of the bite. Generally within 12-24 hours after the bite occurred, the victim will experience fever, nausea and vomiting. The tissue around the bite is killed and secondary infection may develop.

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Millipedes
  • Millipedes have two pairs of legs for each body segment. Millipedes are cylindrical in shape and often brown, black or yellowish in color.
  • Millipedes are generally harmless. Most will excrete a liquid that has a bad odor if disturbed. They also tend to curl up when frightened. Some species expel a liquid that can cause skin irritation in humans. It is thought that this liquid is possibly toxic to small mammals that feed on millipedes.
  • Millipedes are usually found outside where they eat decaying organic matter. They may also feed upon roots or leaves that are on the ground.
  • People can reduce the number of millipedes by dethatching their lawn or removing harborage areas such as rocks, mulch beds or piles of debris.

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Isopods
  • Isopods are often called pillbugs, sowbugs or roly-polys. These occasional pests are actually crustaceans and are more closely related to lobster, crab and shrimp than insects! . Their bodies are oval and flat on the bottom, but convex on the top. They have seven pairs of legs and can be brown, red or whitish in color.
  • Isopods like moist areas. They can be found under objects on the ground, in leaf litter and may even bury themselves in soil. They tend to become most active at night. Isopods consume decaying vegetable matter and are often found in mulch beds.
  • Sowbugs have two tail-like appendages protruding from the tip of their abdomen. Sowbugs cannot roll up into a ball when disturbed; pillbugs can.

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Rodents
  • Rodents, primarily rats and mice, are a public health threat. They are known to carry diseases - most notably hantavirus.
  • Rodents can transmit these diseases by contaminating our food supply. They can also damage structures through their gnawing or chewing. Rats can chew through wood, aluminum, cement and sheet rock. They can gnaw through plumbing pipes to gain access to water - rats must drink water on a daily basis or obtain water through their food source. Rats usually have a preference for certain foods, but are provided with numerous food sources by humans
  • Rats are most active shortly after sunset and before dawn. Rats and mice have vision that is adapted for nighttime. They are color blind, but can differentiate between various shades. They have hairs on their body that are attached to sensory nerves that help them to sense their environment. Hearing is well-developed enabling rodents to hear in sonic and ultrasonic ranges.

 Some species include:

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A. Norway Rat  
  • The Norway rat is also called the brown rat, gray rat, sewer rat, water rat, wharf rat and barn rat. This rat will grow up to 16 inches from nose to tail. The tail is shorter in length than the body. These rats are typically a grayish-brown color, but can be a blackish or reddish-brown.  
  • Norway rats will nest in burrows in the ground. Burrows that have a smooth appearance at entrances are usually active burrows.
  • These rats often feed on grains, seeds and vegetation, but will feed on anything provided in urban settings. These rats will also separate undigested food particles from animal fecal material.

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B. Roof Rat / Black Rat
  • This rat also takes the names of ship rat and house rat. They are an arboreal, or tree-dwelling, species. Roof rats are medium sized and around 16 inches from nose to tail. Their tail is longer than its body. These rats are black or brown with a whitish or gray belly.  
  • Roof rats tend to nest in trees and vegetation, but will also nest in attics or wall voids. Roof rats also nest in the ground, if Norway rats are not in the same area.
  • Roof rats will feed on snails, nuts or fruit.

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C. House Mouse
  • The house mouse is about five to eight inches long and has very large, distinct ears.
  • Their color may range from light brown to almost black. They have a tail that is as long as the head and body combined.
  • Mice have peak activity periods right after dusk and again before dawn. They are primarily nocturnal, but will have short periods of feeding throughout the day.
  • The house mouse will eat all types of food. They will consume seeds, insects, snails, carrion and worms. Mice are capable of surviving long periods without water.
  • Mice are nearsighted and rely on their sense of smell to provide information about their environment. Mice use urine to mark mating and feeding areas and paths to these areas.

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