Posts Tagged ‘pest control’

What Homeowners Should Do When Struggling To Control Unrecognizable Arthropod Pests Within Their Home

Louisiana’s humid, wet, and relatively mild winter temperatures make the state a paradise to a diverse array of arthropods that cannot be found outside of tropical and subtropical regions. Residents all over the state, but particularly in New Orleans and other coastal cities, are used to encountering multiple species of cockroaches, flies, ants, spiders and other creepy-crawlies within their home. The state is also home to eight separate and highly damaging termite species, including the uniquely destructive and invasive Formosan subterranean termite species.

Those moving to Louisiana from northern areas of the country often have a difficult time adjusting to the massive amount of arthropod pests that are a part of everyday life in the state. In fact, it is not uncommon for even longtime residents of Louisiana to spot seemingly exotic and unrecognizable arthropod pests within their home. Since more than 91,000 insect species alone (not counting arachnids) have been documented in the US, many of which can be found in Louisiana, identifying the species of insect or arachnid pest found within homes in the state can be difficult.

While a large number of arthropods can be found in Louisiana, only a small minority of species are considered pests of structures. Arthropod pest infestations cannot be treated effectively unless the species of pest is accurately identified. When homeowners are unable to identify the species name of troublesome indoor arthropod pests, they can send the pests to entomologists at the Louisiana State Ag Center. However, arthropod specimens should be dead before being sent, and specimens should be sealed in containers and stored in a freezer right up until they are mailed. Arthropod specimens can also be preserved with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar, but water will not preserve pests. A cell phone picture of the specimen next to a ruler should be sent to LSU entomologists before they receive the mailed specimen.

Have you ever experienced a mystery bug infestation in your home?




Disease-Spreading Green Bottle Flies Infest Homes More Often Than House Flies, And They Pose A Serious Disease Threat To Humans

Several species of blow flies are common pests throughout the US, and their habit of congregating onto pathogen rich decaying materials, most notably animal carcasses, makes the pests capable of spreading diseases to humans. Numerous flies congregate on filthy materials, like garbage, feces and rotting food, for feeding and reproductive purposes. Flies lay eggs in decaying organic materials in order to provide developing larvae with a nourishing environment upon hatching. Blow flies prefer to feed and lay eggs on decaying animal bodies, and they congregate in landfills, dumpsters and residential garbage bins for the same purpose.

Unfortunately, several blow fly species are known for infesting homes, especially homes located near slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and landfills. Two groups of blow fly pests, greenbottle and bluebottle flies, freely invade homes regularly no matter the location, as they are able to disperse over unusually long distances compared to other fly pests. The most common blow fly house pest in Louisiana, Phaenicia (Lucilia) sericata, breeds and feeds on dead mice, rats and other animal carcasses in wall voids, crawl spaces, attics, behind appliances and storage areas. This species is frequently referred to as the common green bottle fly, and it establishes infestations within homes more often than house flies.

In addition to animal carcasses, the common green bottle fly feeds and lays eggs on indoor food sources, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables. This causes food within infested homes to become smeared with a variety of disease-causing microorganisms, making blow flies among the most dangerous of indoor insect pests. Keeping meat and fish away from blow flies is particularly important, as eggs and larvae are most numerous on these foods. Eating food containing blow fly eggs and larvae will cause serious gastric and enteric illness, such as E. coli, rotavirus and shigella. Blow flies are larger than house flies and they can be recognized for their metallic green-colored bodies, fast flying speed, and loud buzzing.

Have you ever eaten food despite seeing a fly crawling on it?

The Most Common Clothes Moth Pests Can Invade Homes Through The Tiniest Of Entry Points Before Laying Eggs In People’s Clothing

Many people are all too familiar with the scent of mothballs, probably having smelled them after peeking inside their grandparent’s closet. If you haven’t ever encountered a closet full of mothballs, you’re not missing much, as they don’t have the most pleasant of scents. So, why would anyone fill their closet of nice clothes with these smelly things? To keep those clothes safe from clothes moths. Clothes moths are the ultimate enemy of you and your wardrobe. They will tear right through everything from your nicest cashmere sweater to the cotton t-shirt you wear to bed. To make things worse, the most common clothes moth species will devour much more than just your clothes.

The webbing clothes moth is a fairly cosmopolitan species, and the species you are most likely to come across in the country. In addition to being the most common, they are also one of the most destructive. They will pretty much feed on any kind of material they can find in your home, including clothing, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, furs, stored wool, and even things like the felts inside pianos and brush bristles made from animal hair. Nothing is safe from these things. However, it’s not the adult moths that wreak such destruction but rather the larvae.

Adult clothes moths are very active, and are solely used as a means to enter the homes in which their larvae will find food. They can fly considerable distances and fit into the smallest of cracks in windows or walls. The females attach around 40 to 50 eggs to the threads of the clothes they are infesting and then die, having served their purpose of transporting their children to a food-rich environment. Once those eggs hatch, the real fun has just begun. The larvae are quite small and can be easily missed, as they tend to stay in the dark, hidden parts of your clothes, such as under collars or the cuffs of sleeves. While some larvae crawl around without any protective barrier to hide them, most spin either frail, silken tubes or tunnels in which they feed and live, or flat matts of silk that they crawl under. It is this webbing that gives the webbing clothes moth its name, and is also what characterizes an infestation.

Have you ever found an infestation of clothes moths in your home?


Multiple Arthropod Pest Species Have Long Been An Issue For Students Living In LSU Dormitories

Not long ago, graduate students with Louisiana State University’s College Of Agriculture and Entomology armed themselves with flashlights, vials of alcohol and magnifying glasses in order to search campus dormitories for insect specimens. For more than two decades, the residence halls on the LSU campus have been overrun with a number of insect pests, including cockroaches, bed bugs, crickets, mosquitoes, ants, and spiders. Obviously, graduate students need hands-on experience in their field, so department administrators figured the entomology students would benefit from exploring the vast insect pest community within the conveniently located LSU dorms. This move saved the University money on pest control efforts in the dorms and on the costs of sending the entomology students into the field.

LSU residence halls house more than 6,000 students, many of whom experience regular arthropod pest disturbances in their rooms, and there is little that administrative officials believe can be done to eradicate the pests from the old pre-code campus buildings. In a seemingly economical, or perhaps, cheap decision among department heads, the department of entomology partnered with the LSU Residence Life organization in order to combat arthropod pests within campus dorms. According to Gregg Henderson, an urban entomologist with the LSU AgCenter, entomology graduate students report to the dorms after residents lodge insect pest complaints.

Apparently, penny pinching administrative officials are not the only ones who benefited from these free pest inspections, as one entomology student claimed that his experience in the dorms allowed him to observe the indoor behaviors of a variety of arthropod pest species that will be invaluable to his future work in urban arthropod pest control. Although this student specializes in wasps, he receives about 20 calls per week about many different types of arthropod pests, including fleas, bed bugs, cockroaches and ants. When visiting rooms that are suspected of being infested with bed bugs, the students follow a strict protocol in order to avoid spreading bed bugs beyond the infested area. One survey conducted by researchers a little more than a decade ago found that mosquitoes, cockroaches, longhorned crazy ants, gnats, bees and wasps are the most commonly reported insect pests in LSU dormitories. Today, bed bugs are reported more often in LSU dorms than in the past due to the steady growth in annual bed bug infestations in the US during the past two decades.

Has your home ever been infested by multiple arthropod pest species?

Biting Brown Fungus Beetles Are Found Indoors More Often Than Outdoors In Louisiana

Brown fungus beetles are non-native insect pests that belong to the Latridiidae family, which is comprised of many beetle pests that are commonly found in homes. These beetle pests are light to dark brown in color, but their 1 millimeter body length makes them extremely hard to see. Just as their name suggests, brown fungus beetles congregate in decaying organic matter and fungal spores where larvae graze and adults feed on moldy slime. In their native region, these beetles are attracted to outdoor sources of decay, mold and fungus, but in their non-native US habitat, brown fungus beetles are found in homes and other human dwelling more often than in the natural environment. These beetles gather in large numbers in indoor areas that are high in moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements, and their presence is indicative of an indoor mold issue. While several species infest homes in Louisiana, one species, Eufallia seminivea, has become particularly well known as the only one of these pests that inflict bites to humans. This species is more commonly known as the “man-biter,” and although this species’ bite has been documented as causing itchiness and inflammation, it is not considered medically significant.

The man-biter does not necessarily need to secure a moldy location for egg laying, but females must deposit eggs on organic matter. While they prefer moldy conditions, a high-moisture environment is enough to sustain large congregations of brown fungus beetles. Some brown fungus beetles may attempt to puncture skin with their needle-like mouthparts, but only the man-biter has been repeatedly documented as inflicting bites to humans. Residents of infested homes often sustain multiple bites from these insect pests without provocation, but luckily, the man-biter does not feed on human blood or spread disease. Brown fungus beetles are common in homes that contain wet drywall that was not properly cured. Chemicals can be used to temporarily eliminate infestations, but long term prevention requires significant dehumidifying treatments in order to eliminate indoor moisture and mold.

Have you ever heard of brown fungus beetles? Do you believe that you have sustained a bite from a man-biter?


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