Crawl Space: The 7 Most Common Household Insects
By Steve, Web Ecoist, 31 July 2012.
By Steve, Web Ecoist, 31 July 2012.
Are you climbing the walls over bugs climbing your walls? Does your web site have nothing to do with the internet? If so, join the club since a home without insects is a rare home indeed. Your abode may host some or even all of the 7 most common household insects presented here and depending on the bugs, your options range from peaceful coexistence to chemical warfare.
1. Bed Bugs
Bedbugs are on the rebound and they’ve got you in their sites! These small and stealthy critters differ from most house insects in that they’re out for blood - YOUR blood - but at least they’re gracious enough not to disturb your sleep while they’re at it. Entomologists believe the common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) adapted to human hosts after encountering our ancestors in caves frequented by bats. “To the batcave!…” er, no thanks.
(image via: All-American Pest Control)
Is it really necessary to cute-ify bedbugs? The nice folks at Tapir and Friends Animal Store think it is, and so they’re offering this “lovely, realistic-looking” stuffed bed bug. The 7” long plush bedbug is tinted rose-pink with big, bulging, black eyes. According to Tapir and Friends, “This bed bug wants to be your friend and promises not to bite.” Lovely indeed.
2. House Spiders
Up to a dozen different types of spiders are partial to setting up house alongside humans with some so common they’ve been dubbed “House Spiders”. Having spiders in the house is usually a good thing: they either aggressively or passively hunt other insects and make concerted efforts to avoid contact. A list of common spiders prone to living in your home are Yellow Sac spiders, Black or Brown house spiders, American house spiders, and Hobo spiders of which only the last may deliver a bite requiring medical attention.
(image via: Wikipedia)
Also on the list of spiders found in the average home is the Giant House Spider (above). If there are any three words that shouldn’t be combined under any circumstances, Giant, House and Spider would have to be first and foremost. It gets better (OK, worse): Giant House Spiders of the species Tegenaria gigantea are one of the fastest types of spiders, having been clocked at 1.73 ft/s (0.53 m/s). How fast can YOU run?
One of the most common household insects is also one of the most reviled: cockroaches. Why do we hate them so? I mean, besides their love of filth and garbage, spreading of diseases and the foul odour they emit when crushed…well, the haters may have a point or three there. Even cockroaches have their defenders, however, like the folks at the Cruelty Free Shop who provide the means to expel cockroaches with “nature’s own insect repellents”. Or, you could just dump that mountain of old pizza boxes already.
Cockroaches have been with us since our earliest ancestors left Africa…in fact, we probably helped them hitch a ride outta there - both the American and German Cockroach species originated in Africa. All this cockroach camaraderie can go too far, though, because no matter how much you like the song La Cucaracha naming a restaurant after a roach isn’t really the best idea.
4. Odorous House Ants
Ants…how can something so small be such a big problem? Numbers, my friends, numbers. Ants are the epitome of the Hive Mind and when the hive’s hungry, “home invasion” takes on a whole new level of creepy-crawliness. While homeowners may encounter all sorts of ants indoors, the most common is a smallish black critter called the Odorous House Ant. Why “odorous”? Step on one and find out.
Only around half the estimated 20,000 ant species have been documented…the rest are lurking under your sink. All kidding aside, ants are to be taken seriously and a host of sci-fi stories, books and films set out the consequences for those who take them lightly. Freaked out by a couple of ants in the kitchen? Could be worse… “Ten miles long, two miles wide - ants, nothing but ants! And every single one of them a fiend from hell; before you can spit three times they’ll eat a full-grown buffalo to the bones. I tell you if you don’t clear out at once there’ll he nothing left of you but a skeleton picked as clean as your own plantation.”
5. House Centipedes
House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) don’t have a hundred legs, just 15 pairs - more than enough to run down and capture their prey which can include just about any other insect found in one’s home including spiders and cockroaches. Don’t get to warm and fuzzy with it, though, as they’re venomous and the fangs of larger (they can grow up to 2 inches long) specimens can pierce human skin. As disturbing as Scutigera seems, they’ve got nothing on their tropical Giant Centipede relatives.
(image via: Chicago Rants)
House Centipedes not only look frightening, they act it to. One of the earliest descriptions of the species’ behaviour dates back to 1902 when USDA entomologist C.L. Marlatt stated they were observed “often darting directly at inmates of the house, particularly women, evidently with a desire to conceal itself beneath their dresses, and thus creating much consternation.” If that don’t give one the vapours, what will?
Silverfish seem to be primitive, prehistoric even, but they’re actually more sophisticated than you might guess. Able to live up to 8 years, Silverfish conduct surprisingly complex, multistage courtship rituals that may last as long as 30 minutes. They also eat carbohydrates such as sugar, starches and/or the dextrin in glue that holds books together. Considering most homes contain significant amounts of those items, Silverfish have emerged as a common household pest with global distribution.
(image via: Masasimone)
Homes infested with Silverfish are typically messy and damp. The best way to reduce their prevalence is to clean frequently, never leave food out, and deal with dampness - installing a dehumidifier can work wonders. The appearance of Silverfish may be off-putting but look at the bright side: they only grow up to an inch long, they’re not known to spread disease, and they neither bite nor are venomous. As household insects go, that’s not a bad resume. Oh and by the way, Silverfish are NOT edible!
Last but not least, the Common Housefly (Musca domestica). Over 90 percent of all flies found in conjunction with human habitation are Houseflies, so it’s sobering to consider that the species originated on the steppes of central Asia and therefore once was unknown to humanity. Yep, those were the good old days, though it’s likely our earliest urban ancestors had other winged insect pests landing on their food and garbage - or garbage and food, flies care little for order and routine.
The Housefly’s reputation as a vector for germs is no surprise to anyone as they’re obviously attracted to things humans consider to be foul. A closer look at the Housefly serves only to amplify its alien nature, leading authors and film-makers to produce more than a few works of sci-fi shock horror featuring them. Dealing with Houseflies is one of the trials and tribulations of modern society - it’s virtually impossible to repel or banish them altogether. “Life finds a way”, in the words of Jurassic Park’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, and though the Housefly ranks rather low on the scale of life it always seems to find a way.
(image via: Filimadami)
Though we may not be comfortable sharing our homes with bugs, it’s always been a fact of life - ours and theirs. Even so, the level of fear, disgust, loathing and just plain UGH evoked by house bugs is vastly out of proportion considering the immense size advantage we have over our unassuming yet oft-unwelcome tenants…just imagine if the playing field was level.
[Source: Web Ecoist. Edited.]