Creature Feature

Gain new insights into your most difficult pests. Every month, Creature Feature highlights a new pest along with fun facts, product recommendations, and the most effective treatment techniques.

Bed Bug

November 2018

Bed bugs belong to a family of insects that are primarily human, bat and bird parasites. It is believed that the first bed bugs parasitized bats in ancient Mediterranean caves and began parasitizing humans as they inhabited caves along with bats. As cities were established and commerce between them followed, bed bug infestations became more permanent and spread to other areas. Now, the bed bug (often called the common bed bug) has a worldwide distribution and is the dominant bed bug in temperate climates.

Raccoons

October 2018

Raccoons in general are New World animals. Of the three raccoon species that exist, the common raccoon is the largest and most widely distributed. It is native to North and Central America from southern Canada down to Panama. Originally from the tropics, the common raccoon is one of a few larger animals whose range increased along with human settlement. They have been introduced outside of their native range into Europe and Japan where they have become invasive.

Brown Dog Tick

September 2018

The brown dog tick is unique in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. As a result, it is more of a domestic pest (occurring in and around structures) than other tick species. Other ticks can be brought indoors, but they are not able to build populations and infest structures like the brown dog tick. Because it is primarily an indoor parasite of the ever-present domestic dog, it is the most widespread tick in the world. It is usually introduced into a structure on an untreated dog that originated from or visited an infested location.

House Mouse

August 2018

The house mouse probably originated around northern India and stowed away in grain supplies as people migrated around the world. It is now a worldwide pest and, in most cities, it is the top rodent pest. In addition to being transported to new areas as stowaways, house mice are able to enter smaller structural openings than rats and require very little living space. They also require less water than rats because, if necessary, they are able to meet their body’s moisture requirement by producing metabolic water from food. Once indoors and a food resource is established, they can breed throughout the year.

Cat Fleas

July 2018

By far, cat fleas cause the majority of structural infestations. They are the most common fleas on domestic cats and dogs and can infest nuisance wildlife, such as opossums and raccoons. Homes without pets can develop cat flea infestations if feral or wild animals are allowed onto to the property.

Yellow Fever Mosquitoes

June 2018

The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) originated in Africa, where it evolved from an ancestor that still exists there today. Its ancestor prefers to lay eggs in natural tree holes and to feed on non-human animals. At some point, the yellow fever mosquito became domesticated, breeding in artificial containers close to humans and preferring human hosts. This domestication allowed their introduction into the New World via European ships leaving West Africa with slaves and containers of drinking water also holding immature yellow fever mosquitoes.

House Flies

May 2018

House flies are the most common flies associated with humans and their animals. Originally from central Asia, they now occur in inhabited areas worldwide. Since house flies breed in feces and garbage, they can transmit diseases from these mediums onto food and food preparation surfaces. Studies have shown that community-wide fly management reduces cases of infectious diarrhea, which can be caused by various pathogens. House flies may carry these pathogens on their bodies or in their bodies and deposit them in their feces or regurgitated gut contents.

Subterranean Termites

April 2018

Subterranean termites form colonies and forage for wood in soil, which provides moisture and protection from extreme temperatures. As a result, subterranean termites are more widespread than drywood termites, which are more vulnerable to extreme cold. Also unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites don’t live in the wood they’re eating. Since their colony size is not limited by wood, one subterranean termite colony can cause more structural damage than one drywood termite colony. Although subterranean termites occur in every state except Alaska, structural infestations are more common in warmer climates. Subterranean termites are limited by frozen topsoil in areas where winters are extremely cold, reducing the overall number of structural infestations in these areas.

Rock Pigeons

March 2018

Today, rock pigeons are common in cities around the world. Originally, they were cliff-dwelling birds with a natural range from western and southern Europe through northern Africa to southwestern Asia. The earliest record of their domestication dates back to at least 5,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean, making rock pigeons the world's oldest domesticated bird. They were the main bird eaten in Europe and the Middle East for many years. Due to their good homing ability, they were also used to sending messages over long distances. European settlers first brought domesticated rock pigeons to North America in the early 1600s. All feral rock pigeons in North America are the result of escaped domestic birds.

Norway Rats

February 2018

Norway rat is the official common name for a rat that is native to the eastern Siberia/China border and parts of Japan. This misnomer occurred because the English naturalist who classified the rat in 1769 thought the rat was introduced to the UK on Norwegian ships. Although not true, the name stayed and continues to be used today.

Odorous House Ants

January 2018

Odorous house ants (OHA) belong to a subfamily of ants that use strong odors from anal glands as a chemical defense-there is no stinger. The OHA odor isn't unique to OHAs, but comes in handy when identifying them against similar-looking pest ants. Although historically described as "rotten coconut", pest management professionals (PMP) didn't always agree about what the odor smelled liked. A study in 2015 clarified the source of the odor as an organic compound also associated with blue cheese and rotten coconut. Penicillium molds that turn coconuts rotten are also used to make blue cheese, so PMPs that smell either are both correct.