Pest ID can help identify as well as provide basic information about common pests found in the Stanislaus County area. Common pests include ants, bed bugs, spiders, cockroaches, termites and rodents.

ant

Ants

Black carpenter ants are known to forage up to 100 yards in search of food. Workers are most active at night, traveling from their nest to a food source following trails. They do establish chemical (pheromone) trails. The ants produce crackling sounds that can often be heard near a large nest. A large colony can have thousands of individuals. The black carpenter ant does not sting, but the larger workers can administer a sharp bite, which can become further irritated by the injection of formic acid, which they produce. Black carpenter ants are fiercely territorial with regard to other ants. Black carpenter ants do not eat or digest wood, but they tunnel through wood, which can cause structural damage.

Control

In their natural environment, carpenter ants nest in dead trees and other dead wood. This enhances decay, which has ecological benefits. However, the ant achieves pest status when a colony invades the wood of a house or other structure, damaging its structural integrity. Since they favor moist wood as a habitat, any condition that promotes moisture should be eliminated to prevent infestation. The easiest of these is keeping gutters clear so that water does not run down the side of the structure or gain entry. Moist wood is much easier to chew. The ants do not eat the wood, but remove it to create galleries for their activities. The galleries run parallel to the grain, as they are created in the softer, non-lignin portions of the timber. The galleries have a sandpaper-like feel, due to fecal remnants, but the mud-tubes produced by termites will not be present. Sawdust-like piles of frass sometimes accumulate below sites of activity. Any wood in contact with the ground can be a source of entry, and water draining toward the structure will also encourage these ants. Sloping the surrounding ground away from the structure will remedy this method of entry. Leaks inside the house from plumbing or appliances can also create the moist conditions that encourage these species. Reducing moisture will not eliminate an established colony. One can spray the insects with common household insecticides to kill them, but this is unlikely to penetrate enough to reliably kill the colonies deep in the wood. Since it is likely that the wood housing the main nest is no longer structurally sound, the complete removal of the nest and structural repair are required. The main nest must be located, by tracing the foraging workers as they return home. Winged males leave the nest to reproduce, so there is little point in following them. The males leave in search of sunlight, so they are often seen near doors and windows (as exit points). If winged ants are seen, there is a colony nearby, so this is an important warning sign. Structural damage can be extensive by the time external damage is visible, such as sawdust or bubbling paint. Various kinds of pesticide measures are now used, including diatomaceous earth, granular chemicals, biologicals, and soil poisoning. The last alternative is the least environmentally-sound, since it requires widespread distribution of large amounts of poison. The granular chemicals exploit the insects' fondness for sweets, by offering slow-acting insecticides in food substances. The granules are carried back to the nest, where the weak poisons will be slowly fed to the queen until she expires.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects up to 4 to 5 mm long or the size of an apple seed. Swollen and reddish after a blood meal. Bed bugs only feed on blood. Under cool conditions, bed bugs have been able to survive up to a year without a meal. They prefer to be more active at night when the host is asleep. Found in cracks and crevices, including mattress seams, sheets, furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames. Often found in hotels, where they can travel from room to room and in visitors’ luggage or other personal belongings such as purses and briefcases. Females can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime. Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches

Cockroaches belong to Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta and Order Blattaria. Some species invade human dwellings and are considered pests. Others are beneficial to the environment as important recyclers of decaying organic material. The pest cockroaches can be carriers of various diseases because they are commonly found near waste deposits or in the kitchen, where food is present. Restaurants may also experience cockroach infestations. Cockroaches can measure over 50 cm (2 in) length, with tropical species tending to be larger than those found in other climates. Cockroaches have six legs, two antennae and some have wings. However, most winged cockroaches are not particularly adept at flying. Cockroaches emit unpleasant odors and may also produce sound. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is the most famous of these vocal cockroaches, although more common species may produce quieter clicking or chirping noises.