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?