Author: Dennis Murphy
The photographs and descriptions below will help you identify which bug (pest) is invading your property or home. Just follow these easy steps:
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Ants are social insects that live in nests. For this reason they are often confused with termites (white ants), but the two groups have very little in common - apart from their size and social behaviour. Ants feed on a wide range of foods, from those found in homes to the sugary excretions from plant bugs. They are the most frequently encountered insects in and around the average home. Ants are considered nuisance pests in the house as they enter from outside in the garden and make their way to the food handling facilities. Depending on the species of ant, their nests are made under paths and cavities. Ants can also carry disease organisms. Certain species are attracted to dog faecal droppings, and to other waste products in garbage, particularly those containing organisms causing dysentery or pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella.For more information click here
The common bedbug is best adapted to human environment. It is found in temperate climated throughout the world and has been known since ancient times. Adult bedbugs are reddish brown, flattened, oval and wingless with micoscopic hairs that gim them a banded appearance. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye. Adults grow to 4-5 mm in length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attentive observer.For more information click here
Feral pigeons, also called city dives, city pigeons or street pigeons are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned from the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild Rock Pigeon, which naturally inhabits sea-sliffs and mountains. All three types readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the lefges of building a perfect substitute for sea-cliffs and have become adapted to life and abundant in towns and cities all over the world.
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German cockroaches are usually found in kitchens, and behind and under stoves, dishwashers, and sinks. Microwave ovens and computers have had their electronic controls damaged by cockroaches that have been attracted to the warmth. American cockroaches inhabit wall cavities, roof areas, and sub- floors, and are often encountered around drains and sewers. They are therefore potential spreaders of disease organisms. Australian cockroaches prefer warmer climates. They mostly occur outside, often where there are plants, wood piles, and under garden litter. They also occur in roof voids and walls.For more information click here
Fleas can be pests in homes, hotels, motels, and wherever human populations occur – often where these areas are shared with animals. All species of fleas have piercing and sucking mouthparts that are used to draw blood from their host. Fleas are one of the most significant transmitters of diseases to humans and animals. The larvae feed on many forms of organic matter located in carpets and other floor coverings as well as outside in lawns. Warm and humid conditions - such as those occurring in summer and autumn - favour the development of flea larvae, pupae, and adults. Flea pupae may remain in floor coverings and cracks in flooring for several months and often the adults emerge from their cases when vibration from walking fractures the pupal cases. Cat flea has a wide range of hosts, feeding on cats, dogs, humans and other animals. It is the most frequently encountered species in much of Australia.For more information click here
The life cycles of flies are complex, but each species has the same developmental stages in common, cosisting of an egg, larval (maggot) stage, pua and finally the adult. Growth at each immature stage is dependent on many varables but primarily temperature and suitable substrates for a food supply. Each adult fly has its own special requirements that must be met before mating and egg laying commences.
Non-biting flies are often associated with domesic dwellings, especially throughout the warmer months when flies bred prolifically, invading home and can be a constant annoyance for humans. Flies are equipped with special sensory cells on their antennae and feet which enable them to locate suitable food and egg laying sites. These sensory cells aid in detecting compounds such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and other strong compounds that are emitted from decomposing organic materials, such as carrion and faeces. The free interchange flies have with such sites ensures the flies are laden with bacteria on their mouthparts, body hairs and the sticky pads of their feet, as well as in their stomachs (where the bacteria rapidly multiply), faces and vomitus. Contact with any foodstuffs, or feeding, which often involves vomiting and defecating, will contaminate food, preparation surfaces and utensils with potentially disease causing organisms.For more information click here
Millipedes have short segmented antennae and 2 pairs of legs to each body segment, with the exception of the first 3 segments. Head bears the mouthparts, consisting of a pair of jaws and a cluster of simple eyes on each side of the head. Body is round and not flattened as in the centipedes and the outer casing is quite hard. Segments are telescoped and variable in number. Movement of the body appears to occur in waves, running from front to rear. Reproductive organs open towards the head and are not located posteriorly. Millipedes may attain a length of 20cm.For more information click here
The mosquitos are insects which make up the family Culicidae. They have a pair of scaled wings, a pair of halteres, a slender body and long legs. The females of most mosquto species suck blook from other animals which has made them the most deadly disease vectors known to man, killing millions of people over thousands of years and continuing to kill millions per year by the spread of diseases.
Length varies but is rarely greater than 16mm. A mosquito can fly for 1 to 4 hours continuously at up to 1-2 km/h travelling up to 10 km in a night. Most species are nocturnal or crepuscular (dawn or evening) feeders. During the heat of the day most mosquitos rest in a cool place and wait for the evenings. They may still bite if disturbed.For more information click here
While not all moths attack fabrics, the case-making clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth do attack materials mainly of animal origin - such as woollens and furs. These moths generally occur in the more humid coastal regions, where their larvae can do extensive damage to carpets and clothing. The adult clothes moths are small, usually up to 10mm long. The larvae that damage the fabrics have chewing mouthparts and are white in colour, with a dark head and six legs.For more information click here
Possums are small marsupials with brown or grey fur, ranging in size and weight from the length of a finger or 170 grams (phgmy possums and wrist-winged gliders) to the length of 120 cm or 14.5 kilos (bushtails and ringtails). All possums are nocturnal and omnivorous, hiding in a nest in a hollow tree during the day and coming out during the night to forage for food.
The two most common species of possums, the Common Brushtail and Common Ringtail are also among the largest.For more information click here
RATS & MICE
Rats and mice find food and shelter in buildings, particularly during late autumn and winter, when they enter houses. Once inside buildings, they often make their nests in walls and roof cavities. The nests are usually composed of paper and other soft materials such as insulation batts. In the case of the rats, particularly the Norway rat, burrows are made in soil - often near buildings and garbage disposal areas. Rats and mice are also very good climbers, being able to ascend rough walls, pipes, trees, and vines. They can also walk across cables from one structure to another. Rats and mice are mostly active at night. They eat a wide range of foods. The senses of rodents - such as smell, taste, hearing and touch - are very keen, but their sight is poor and as a result they tend to remain close to various surfaces. There are three rodent pests of houses in Australia - all introduced species: the Norway rat is often found in food-handling facilities, sewers, garbage areas, and on most types of farms; the roof rat is usually found in city and suburban areas, feeding on vegetables, fruit, and cereals; the house mouse needs very little water, and feeds on grains, fruit, and various animal and human foods. It can reach plague proportions on farms and other rural properties.
Silverfish are primitive insects. Several species enter houses and infest areas where starchy materials such as paper, books, and fabric are stored. They also occur in roof cavities. They often fall into baths and sinks as they cannot climb smooth surfaces. Silverfish may live for up to four years.
Ground-dwelling spiders make holes in the ground and often live there with silken web material. Some of these spiders are regarded as poisonous, and in the case of the Sydney and northern rivers funnel web spiders, are very poisonous. Orb-weaving (web-weaving) spiders are all non-poisonous to humans. They are not aggressive, and have only one generation a year. Redback spiders make loose, untidy webs among leaves, rubbish, under houses, in tins, tyres, stacked articles, and in outside toilets. The female redback spider can be up to 12mm in length. She is extremely poisonous. The male redback spider is very small (3mm) and harmless. White-tailed spiders are poisonous. Their bites can cause pain and have been associated with blistering and necrosis (where the cells on and just below the surface die and become scaly). The male is about 12mm while the female can be up to 20mm in length.They are found under bark and logs in the bush. When it lives in houses, it searches for its prey in the early evening and shelters during the day in bathrooms, on the tops of walls, and in furniture. Huntsman spiders are not aggressive, but if provoked, their bite can be painful - although no symptoms of poisoning follow. The male is usually 25mm in size and the female 35mm. They normally live under the bark of trees during the daytime and emerge at night. They often enter houses where they are seen on walls. They are a useful spider in that they feed on insects.For more information click here
Termites or “white ants” are social insects that work and live together in groups called colonies. Worker termites are wingless, blind and do not reproduce. Soldier termites defend the colony against predators such as ants and do not reproduce. The winges reproductive termites are potential kings and queens of new colonies. These termites have eyes and wings and leave the main colony in swarms. They do not fly very far but then shed their wings. A reproductive male and female will then pair off and form a new colony.Queen and soldier termites are unable to feed themselves, so food is exchanged through oral secretions from the worker caste. Consequently, if any individual termites are poisoned the poison will be passed to their nest mates and colony of termites may be destroyed without actually finding the nest.For more information click here
The European wasp was introduced into Australia, apparently during the latter half of the twentieth century, and is now a pest in most Australian States. It also occurs in New Zealand, where it attacks weak hives of honey bees and affects their honey production. This is also expected to occur in some parts of Australia, as it spreads northwards and westwards. Unlike honey bees, European wasps can sting many times when disturbed, particularly if this occurs in or near their nest. Their stings, particularly those from a whole swarm, can require medical attention. The English wasp has been present, but only in Victoria, for some years. It is very similar in appearance to the European wasp, so it is important to have wasps accurately identified before control measures are applied.