DO YOU KNOW WHAT BUGS YOU?
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.
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.
BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER
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.
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.
BLACK WIDOW SPIDER
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.