DO YOU KNOW WHAT BUGS YOU? Knowing what you are up against can help in preventative or treatment measures.


As bug infestations tend to peak this time of year in many areas, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with some of the critters that can cause damage to you and/or your home. Hopefully, you will have no more than a casual encounter with a few of these pests. While most homeowners understand that termites can cause serious structural damage, here is a brief primer on some other common insects found around homes. Homeowners can deal with some of these insects, however, the HouseMaster Technical Staff recommends contacting a professional exterminating company in the case of a termite infestation or a serious infestation by any other insects.

Carpenter Ant


Characteristics: Broad head; metallic blue/black with yellow or white hairs; ¾” – 1” (18-25 mm) in length. Location: Dry wood on the outside of homes, barns, fences; twigs or tree limbs. Diet: Plant nectar. Damage: Cuts ¼” – ½” tunnel at a 90° angle to the entry hole; usually in exterior trim pieces; can cause extensive damage if recurring. Comments: Prefers to nest in unpainted/untreated soft wood, such as pine, cedar and redwood.



Characteristics: Straw-color with 3 dark bands on the head; ¾” body length (18 mm). Location: In warm, dark places in homes, trash dumps in warm weather. Diet: Plants and other organic matter, including cloth. Damage: They can make an annoying noise; presence usually indicates moisture concerns. Comments: Infestations can include a large number of insects, particularly in suburban areas.

Black Widow


Characteristics: Brown with violin shaped marking on back; 3/8” (10 mm). Leg span 1 to 1½” (25-35 mm). Has three eyes. Location: Lives in cracks and crevices and other dark areas; spins fine cotton-like webs near its shelter. Diet: Insects. Damage: Poisonous; can cause skin damage around bite and serious secondary infections. Comments: If a brown recluse bite is suspected, or any reactions occur from a bite by an unknown insect, see a doctor immediately.


Characteristics: Variable but typically black or reddish/black; ¼” – ½” (6-12 mm) in length. Location: Trees, stumps, logs, houses. Diet: Insects, meat, sweets, fruit, eggs. Damage: Can cause structural damage. Excavations in wood; tends to be localized but can be extensive if untreated. Comments: Needs moisture, migratory; will drop onto houses from overhanging trees.

Carpenter Bee


Characteristics: Brown, gray, black or yellow; ½” – 2½” (12-60 mm). Location: Under rocks, trash, crawl spaces, attics. Diet: Soft-bodied insects. Damage: Will sting humans if provoked; can be very poisonous. Comments: All stings should be treated by a doctor immediately. Generally found across the southern United States.

Cave Cricket


Characteristics: Black with red hourglass on underside of abdomen or back; ½” body length (12 mm). Location: Seldom found in homes; more common in wood piles, porches, outhouses. Diet: Insects. Damage: May bite humans; can be very dangerous. Comments: If bitten, see a doctor immediately.

Brown Recluse