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These ants may invade the home for food (sweets and meat). They feed on sweet juices such as honeydew of aphids, nectar, plant sap, etc. They build "cowsheds or tents" of plant or earthen material over aphids, which they tend. Workers are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, light brownish-yellow, and are recognized by a heart-shaped abdomen, flattened on the upper surface and curved below. They have a two node petiole attached to the upper part of the abdomen and a pair of spines on the thorax. When disturbed, they elevate their abdomens, directing them forward in an acrobatic manner and bite fiercely. They nest under wood, such as stumps, under boards, in hollow trees, under trash, rocks, in windows and door frames. They have an objectionable odor.
This ant normally lives outdoors with nests consisting of huge conical mounds, sometimes measuring nearly three feet high by six feet in diameter. Undoubtedly, some enter homes occasionally since they are fond of sweets, but normally attend honeydew-secreting insects on plants and are predaceous on other insects. Workers are about 1/4 inch long with a blackish-brown abdomen and legs, while the head and thorax are rust red. New colonies are founded by extension of or breaking off from existing colonies when workers migrate away with one or more queens. Related field ants may be brown, black, red or of various combinations of these colors.
Harmonia axyridis is a "typical" coccinellid beetle in shape and structure, being domed and having a "smooth" transition between its elytra (wing coverings), pronotum and head. It occurs in three main color forms: red or orange with black spots (known as form succinea); black with four red spots (form spectabilis); and black with two red spots (form conspicua). However, numerous intermediate and divergent forms have also been recorded. The species is typically large (7–8 mm long) and even more dome-shaped than native European species (these characteristics distinguish Harmonia axyridis from native species in the UK). It often has white markings (typically "M" or "W" shaped) on its pronotum, and usually brown or reddish legs.
This species was possibly established in North America as the result of introductions into the United States in an attempt to control the spread of aphids. Whatever the source, in the last two decades, this insect has spread throughout the United States and Canada and has been a prominent factor in controlling aphid populations. However, many people now view this species as a nuisance, partly due to their tendency to overwinter indoors and the unpleasant odor and stain left by their bodily fluid when frightened or squashed. (It is also currently increasing in Europe to the detriment of indigenous species, due to its voracious appetite which enables them to out-compete and even eat other lady beetles, as it also does in the United States.)
In the U.S., the first attempts to introduce it took place as far back as 1916. Repeated efforts were not successful. In the early 1980s, aphids were causing significant problems for growers of pecan trees, so the United States Department of Agriculture again attempted to bring the insect into the country—this time in the southeastern United States, using beetles brought from their native region in northeasternAsia. After a period of time, USDA scientists concluded that their attempts had been unsuccessful. However, a population of beetles was observed near New Orleans, Louisiana around 1988, though this may have been an accidental introduction event independent of the original, planned efforts. In the following years it quickly spread to other states, being occasionally observed in the Midwest within 5–7 years, and becoming common in the region by about 2000. The species was also established in the northwest by 1991, and the northeast by 1994, in the former case quite possibly involving additional introductions, rather than reaching there from the southeast. It is reported that it has heavily fed on soybean aphids (which recently appeared in the U.S. after coming from China), supposedly saving farmers vast sums of money in 2001. However, in addition to its household pest status, it has been reported to be a minor agricultural pest (contaminating crops of tender fruits and grapes) in Iowa, Ohio, New York State, and Ontario. The contamination of grapes by this beetle has been found to alter the taste of wine. Native ladybird species have experienced often dramatic declines in abundance in areas invaded by H. axyridis. Despite the troubles the Asian lady beetle causes, many farmers still view it as a beneficial insect.
The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) is the species best adapted to human environments. It is found in temperate climates throughout the world and feeds on human blood. Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, flattened, oval, and wingless, with microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye. Adults grow to 4–5 mm (1/8th – 3/16th of an inch) in length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attentive observer. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color and become browner as they moult and reach maturity. In size, they are often compared to lentils or apple seeds.
Bedbugs are generally active just before dawn, with a peak feeding period about an hour before sunrise. However, they may attempt to feed at other times, given the opportunity, and have been observed to feed at any time of the day. They climb the walls to the ceiling and jump down on feeling a heat wave (in wooden houses). Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which containsanticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents, and the first indication of a bite usually comes from the desire to scratch the bite site. Because of their dislike for sunlight, bedbugs come out at night.
Although bedbugs can live for a year or as much as eighteen months without feeding, they typically seek blood every five to ten days. Bedbugs that go dormant for lack of food often live longer than a year, well-fed specimens typically live six to nine months. Low infestations may be difficult to detect, and it is not unusual for the victim not to even realize they have bedbugs early on. Patterns of bites in a row or a cluster are typical as they may be disturbed while feeding. Bites may be found in a variety of places on the body.
Bedbugs have been erroneously associated with filth in the mistaken notion that this attracts them. Bedbugs are attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat, not by dirt, and they feed on blood, not waste. In short, the cleanliness of their environment has an effect on the control of bedbugs but, unlike cockroaches, does not have a direct effect on bedbugs as they feed on their hosts and not on waste. Good housekeeping in association with proper preparation and mechanical removal by vacuuming will certainly assist in control.
In most observed cases, bites consist of a raised red bump or flat welt, and are often accompanied by intense itching. The red bump or welts are the result of an allergic reaction to the anesthetic contained in the bedbug's saliva, which is inserted into the blood of its victim. Bedbug bites may appear indistinguishable from mosquito bites, though they tend to last for longer periods. Bites may not become immediately visible, and can take up to nine days to appear. Bedbug bites tend to not have a red dot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites. A trait shared with flea bites, however, is tendency towards arrangements of sequential bites. Bites are often aligned three in a row, giving rise to the colloquialism "breakfast, lunch and dinner." This may be caused by the bedbug being disturbed while eating, and relocating half an inch or so farther along the skin before resuming feeding. Alternatively, the arrangement of bites may be caused by the bedbug repeatedly searching for a blood vein. People react very differently to bedbugs, and individual responses vary with factors including skin type, environment, and the species of bug. In some rare cases, allergic reactions to the bites may cause nausea and illness. In a large number of cases, estimated to 50% of all people, there is no visible sign of bites whatsoever, greatly increasing the difficulty of identifying and eradicating infestations. People commonly respond to bed bug infestations and their bites with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Individuals may also get skin infections and scars from scratching the bedbug bite locations.
here are several means by which dwellings can become infested with bedbugs. People can often acquire bedbugs at hotels, motels, or bed-and-breakfasts, and bring them back to their homes in their luggage. They also can pick them up by inadvertently bringing infested furniture or used clothing to their household. If someone is in a place that is severely infested, bedbugs may actually crawl onto and be carried by people's clothing, although this is atypical behaviour — except in the case of severe infestations, bedbugs are not usually carried from place to place by people on clothing they are currently wearing. Bedbugs may travel between units in multi-unit dwellings, such as condominiums and apartment buildings, after being originally brought into the building by one of the above routes. Bedbugs can also be transmitted via animal vectors including wild birds and household pets.
This spread between sites is dependent in part on the degree of infestation, on the material used to partition units and whether infested items are dragged through common areas while being disposed of, resulting in the shedding of bedbugs and bedbug eggs while being dragged. In some exceptional cases, the detection of bedbug hiding places can be aided by the use of dogs that have been trained to find the insects by their scent much as dogs are trained to find drugs or explosives. A trained dog and handler can detect and pinpoint a bedbug infestation within minutes. This is a fairly costly service that is not used in the majority of cases, but can be very useful in difficult cases.
The numerical size of a bedbug infestation is to some degree variable, as it is a function of the elapsed time from the initial infestation. With regards to the elapsed time from the initial infestation, even a single female bedbug brought into a home has a potential for reproduction, with its resulting offspring then breeding, resulting in a geometric progression of population expansion if control is not undertaken. Sometimes people are not aware of the insects and do not notice the bites. The visible bedbug infestation does not represent the infestation as a whole, as there may be infestations elsewhere in a home. However, the insects do have a tendency to stay close to their hosts, hence the name "bed" bugs.
Bedbugs travel easily and quickly along pipes and boards, and their bodies are very flat, which allows them to hide in tiny crevices. In the daytime, they tend to stay out of the light, preferring to remain hidden in such places as mattress seams, mattress interiors, bed frames, nearby furniture, carpeting, baseboards, inner walls, tiny wood holes, or bedroom clutter. Bedbugs can be found on their own, but more often congregate in groups. Bedbugs are capable of travelling as far as 100 feet to feed, but usually remain close to the host in bedrooms or on sofas where people may sleep.
Bedbugs are known for being elusive, transient, and nocturnal, making them difficult to detect. While individuals have the option of contacting a pest control professional to determine if a bedbug infestation exists, there are several do-it-yourself methods that may work equally well. The presence of bedbugs may be confirmed through identification of the insects collected or by a pattern of bites. Though bites can occur singularly, they often follow a distinctive linear pattern marking the paths of blood vessels running close to the surface of the skin. The common bite pattern of three bites often around the ankle or shin close to each other has garnered the macabre colloquialism "breakfast, lunch & dinner."
A technique for catching bedbugs in the act is to have a light source quickly accessible from your bed and to turn it on at about an hour before dawn, which is usually the time when bedbugs are most active. A flashlight/torch is recommended instead of room lights, as the act of getting out of bed will cause any bedbugs present to scatter before you can catch them. If you awaken during the night, leave your lights off but use your flashlight/torch to inspect your mattress. Bedbugs are fairly fast in their movements, about equal to the speed of ants. They may be slowed down if engorged. When the bedroom light is switched on, it may temporarily startle them allowing time for you to get a dust pan and brush kept next to the bed and sweep the bugs into the pan then immediately sweep them into a cup or mug full of water where the bugs drown quickly. Dispose of the water down the sink or toilet. Disinfect the mattress, skirting boards and so on regularly. Glue traps placed in strategic areas around the home, sometimes used in conjunction with heating pads or balloons filled with exhaled breath offering a carbon dioxide source, may be used to trap and thus detect bedbugs. This method has varied reports of success. There are also commercial traps like 'flea' traps whose effectiveness is questionable except perhaps as a means of detection. Perhaps the easiest trapping method is to place double-sided carpet tape in long strips near or around the bed and check the strips after a day or more.
It is found primarily on maple and ash trees. The adults are about 12½ mm (½ in) long with a dark brown or black coloration, relieved by red wing veins and markings on the abdomen. Nymphs and immature bugs are bright red. These insects feed on the softer plant tissues, including leaves, flowers, and new twigs. Unless the population is exceptionally large, the damage to plants is minimal. During years when their population soars, they can damage useful shade trees.
In autumn, they can become household pests. The adult insects seek wintering hibernation locations and find their way into buildings through crevices. They remain inactive inside the walls (and behind siding) while the weather is cool. When the heating systems revive them, they begin to enter inhabited parts of the buildings. In the spring, the bugs leave their winter hibernation locations to lay eggs on maple or ash trees. In late spring, groups of 50-200+ bugs may gather on house siding or brick, usually in a sunny spot. A month or two later you may find pairs of them mating, connected end to end, also in groups of 3 and 4.
The brown recluse spider is uncommon in Ohio. Nonetheless, OSU Extension receives numerous spider specimens that homeowners mistakenly suspect to be the brown recluse. Media attention and public fear contribute to these misdiagnoses. The brown recluse belongs to a group of spiders that is officially known as the "recluse spiders" in the genusLoxosceles (pronounced lox-sos-a-leez). These spiders are also commonly referred to as "fiddleback" spiders or "violin" spiders because of the violin-shaped marking on the top surface of the cephalothorax (fused head and thorax). However, this feature can be very faint depending on the species of recluse spider, particularly those in the southwestern U.S., or how recently the spider has molted. The common name, brown recluse spider, pertains to only one species, Loxosceles reclusa. The name refers to its color and habits. It is a reclusive creature that seeks and prefers seclusion.
The brown recluse spider and ten additional species of Loxosceles are native to the United States. In addition, a few non-native species have become established in limited areas of the country. The brown recluse spider is found mainly in the central Midwestern states southward to the Gulf of Mexico (see map). Isolated cases in Ohio are likely attributable to this spider occasionally being transported in materials from other states. Although uncommon, there are more confirmed reports of Loxosceles rufescens (Mediterranean recluse) than the brown recluse in Ohio. It, too, is a human-associated species with similar habits and probably similar venom risks (unverified).
Recluse spiders have six eyes that are arranged in pairs. In the mature brown recluse spider as well as some other species of recluse spiders, the dark violin marking is well defined, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the bulbous abdomen. The abdomen is uniformly colored, although the coloration can range from light tan to dark brown, and is covered with numerous fine hairs that provide a velvety appearance. The long, thin, brown legs also are covered with fine hairs, but not spines. Adult brown recluse spiders have a leg span about the size of a quarter. Their body is about 3/8 inches long and about 3/16 inches wide. Males are slightly smaller in body length than females, but males have proportionally longer legs. Both sexes are venomous. The immature stages closely resemble the adults except for size and a slightly lighter color. Whereas most spiders have eight eyes, recluse spiders have six eyes that are arranged in pairs in a semicircle on the forepart of the cephalothorax (see close-up view). A 10X hand lens or microscope is needed to see this diagnostic feature. In order to determine the exact species of Loxosceles, the spider's genitalia need to be examined under a high-power microscope. This requires the skills of a spider expert.
Life Cycle and Habits
Egg laying primarily occurs from May through July. The female lays about 50 eggs that are encased in an off-white silken sac that is about 2/3-inch diameter. Each female may produce several egg sacs over a period of several months. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac in about a month or less. Their development is slow and is influenced by weather conditions and food availability. It takes an average of one year to reach the adult stage from time of egg deposit. Adult brown recluse spiders often live about one to two years. They can survive long periods of time (about 6 months) without food or water.
The brown recluse spider spins a loose, irregular web of very sticky, off-white to grayish threads. This web serves as the spider's daytime retreat, and it often is constructed in an undisturbed corner. This spider roams at night searching for insect prey. Recent research at the University of Kansas indicates that the brown recluse spider is largely a scavenger, preferring dead insects. Mature males also roam in search of females.
Brown recluse spiders generally occupy dark, undisturbed sites, and they can occur indoors or outdoors. In favorable habitats, their populations are usually dense. They thrive in human-altered environments. Indoors, they may be found in attics, basements, crawl spaces, cellars, closets, and ductwork or registers. They may seek shelter in storage boxes, shoes, clothing, folded linens, and behind furniture. They also may be found in outbuildings such as barns, storage sheds, and garages. Outdoors, brown recluse spiders may be found underneath logs, loose stones in rock piles, and stacks of lumber.
The brown recluse spider is not aggressive, and it normally bites only when crushed, handled or disturbed. Some people have been bitten in bed after inadvertently rolling over onto the spider. Others have been bitten after accidentally touching the spider when cleaning storage areas. Some bites occur when people put on seldom used clothing or shoes inhabited by a brown recluse.
Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris, B. pratorum, et al.) are eusocial in a manner quite similar to the eusocialVespidae such as hornets. The queen initiates a nest on her own (unlike queens of honey bees and stingless bees which start nests via swarms in the company of a large worker force). Bumblebee colonies typically have from 50 to 200 bees at peak population, which occurs in mid to late summer. Nest architecture is simple, limited by the size of the nest cavity (pre-existing), and colonies are rarely perennial. Bumblebee queens sometimes seek winter safety in honey bee hives, where they are sometimes found dead in the spring by beekeepers, presumably stung to death by the honey bees. It is unknown whether any survive winter in such an environment.
These ants are the largest found in Ohio and rank number one in inquiries over all other ants. They are a nuisance by their presence when found in parts of the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, living room and other quarters. They do not eat wood, but remove quantities of it to expand their nest size, sometimes causing structural damage. Winged males are smaller than winged queens. Wingless queens measure 5/8 inch, winged queens 3/4 inch, large major workers 1/2 inch and small minor workers 1/4 inch. Workers have some brown on them, while queens are black. Workers have large heads and a small thorax while adult swarmers have a smaller head and large thorax. The petiole has one node and the profile of the thorax has an evenly rounded upper surface (workers only).
They are often mistaken for a bumblebee species, as they can be similar in size and coloration, though most carpenter bees have a shiny abdomen, while in bumblebees the abdomen is completely clothed with dense hair. Males of some species have a white or yellow face, where the females do not; males also often have much larger eyes than the females, which relates to their mating behavior. Male bees are often seen hovering near nests, and will approach nearby animals. However, males are harmless since they do not have a stinger. Female bees do have a stinger, but are not aggressive, and will not sting unless directly provoked.
Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other. It has been occasionally reported that when females cohabit, there may be a division of labor between them, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions.
Carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood, vibrating their bodies as they rasp their mandibles against the wood, each nest having a single entrance which may have many adjacent tunnels. Carpenter bees do not eat wood. They discard the bits of wood, or re-use particles to build partitions between cells. The tunnel functions as a nursery for brood and the pollen/nectar upon which the brood subsists. The provision masses of some species are among the most complex in shape of any group of bees; whereas most bees fill their brood cells with a soupy mass, and others form simple spheroidal pollen masses, Xylocopaform elongate and carefully sculpted masses that have several projections which keep the bulk of the mass from coming into contact with the cell walls, sometimes resembling an irregular caltrop. The eggs are very large relative to the size of the female, and are some of the largest eggs among all insects.
There are two very different mating systems that appear to be common in carpenter bees, and often this can be determined simply by examining specimens of the males of any given species. Species in which the males have large eyes are characterized by a mating system where the males either search for females by patrolling, or by hovering and waiting for passing females, whom they then pursue. In the other type of mating system, the males often have very small heads, but there is a large, hypertrophied glandular reservoir in the mesosoma, which releases pheromones into the airstream behind the male while it flies or hovers. The pheromone advertises the presence of the male to females.
There are about 4,000 species of cockroach, of which 30 species are associated with human habitations and about four species are well known as pests.
Among the best-known pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, about 15 millimetres (½ in) long, the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, also about 15 millimetres (½ in) in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 25 millimetres (1 in).
Cockroaches are rather large insects. Most species are about the size of a thumbnail, but several species are bigger. The world's largest cockroach is the Australian giant burrowing cockroach, which can reach 9 cm in length and weigh more than 30 grams. Comparable in size is the Central American giant cockroach Blaberus giganteus, which grows to a similar length but is not as heavy.
Eggs and egg capsules
Female cockroaches are sometimes seen carrying egg cases on the end of their abdomen; the egg case of the German cockroach holds about 30–40 long, thin eggs, packed like frankfurters in the case called an ootheca. The eggs hatch from the combined pressure of the hatchlings gulping air and are initially bright white nymphs that continue inflating themselves with air and harden and darken within about four hours. Their transient white stage while hatching and later while molting has led to many claims of glimpses of an albino cockroach.
A female German cockroach carries an egg capsule containing around 40 eggs. She drops the capsule prior to hatching, though live births do rarely occur. Development from eggs to adults takes 3-4 months. Cockroaches live up to a year. The female may produce up to eight egg cases in a lifetime; in favorable conditions, it can produce 300-400 offspring. Other species of cockroach, however, can produce an extremely high number of eggs in a lifetime, but in some cases a female only needs to be impregnated once to be able to lay eggs for the rest of her life.
Nests are very commonly found in fields, lawns, between bricks in the walk, beneath rocks, in pavement cracks, etc. Numerous mounds of its nests are commonly seen in the lawn. They invade the home for sweets. They live on nectar of flowers, live and dead insects and are very fond of honeydew. They collect the eggs of corn root aphids, storing them in burrows during the winter, then in the spring, carry young to the roots of corn. Yellowish, retarded corn and the presence of anthills around the injured corn plants are evidence of this dependent relation between the ant and aphids. They also transport strawberry root aphids to the crowns and roots of strawberries. Workers are about 1/10 to 1/4 inch long, light to dark brown, soft-bodied, robust, one node petiole (long pointed segment), 12-segmented antennae, without an antennal club, with the anal opening at the end of the abdomen, circular, and surrounded by a fringe of hairs. They have large eyes on the head and, when crushed, emit a strong odor of "formic acid."
Crab spiders make up the Thomisidae family of the Araneae order. They are called crab spiders because they resemble crabs, with two front pairs of legs angled outward and bodies that are flattened and often angular. Also, like crabs, Thomisidae can move sideways or backward.
Crab spiders do not build webs to trap prey, but are hunters and ambushers. Some species sit on or among flowers, bark, fruit or leaves where they grab visiting insects. Individuals of some species, such as Misumena vatia, are able to change color between white and yellow to match the flower on which they're sitting. Other species, with their flattened bodies, hunt in the crevices of tree trunks or under loose bark. Members of the genus Xysticus hunt in the leaf litter on the ground. In each case, crab spiders use their powerful front legs to grab and hold onto prey while paralyzing it with a venomous bite.
The spider family Aphantochilidae was incorporated into the Thomisidae in the late 1980s. Aphantochilus species mimic Cephalotes ants, on which they prey. The spiders of Thomisidae are not known to be harmful to humans. However, spiders of an unrelated genus, Sicarius, which are sometimes referred to as "crab spiders", are close cousins to the recluse spiders, and are highly venomous.
These ants will feed on sweets and kitchen scraps, but prefer to feed on animal matter and insects such as fly larvae and adults. Ants present the appearance of running aimlessly about a room and, thus, named "crazy." Workers are about 1/10 inch long, with slender long legs, dark brown to black in color, one node petiole, the profile of the thorax not evenly rounded, and the abdomen tip has a circular fringe of hairs.
Earwigs is the common name given to the insect order Dermaptera characterized by membranous wings folded underneath short leathery forewings (hence the literal name of the order—"skin wings"). The abdomen extends well beyond the wings, and frequently, though not always, ends in a pair of forceps-like structures termed cerci. The order is relatively small among Insecta, with about 1,800 recorded species in 10 families. Earwigs are, however, quite common globally. There is no evidence that they transmit disease or otherwise harm humans or other animals, despite their nickname pincher bug or "pinch ass".
Appearance and behaviour
Most earwigs are elongated, flattened, and are dark brown. Lengths are mostly in the quarter- to half-inch range (10–14 mm), with the Saint Helena Giant Earwig reaching three inches (80 mm). Cerci range from nonexistent to long arcs up to one-third as long as the rest of the body. Mouthparts are designed for chewing, as in other orthopteroid insects. Flight capability in Dermaptera is varied, as there are species with and without wings. In those earwigs that have wings (are not apterous), the hindwings are folded in a complex fashion, so that they fit under the forewings. Most species of winged earwigs are capable of flight, yet earwigs rarely fly around.
The abdomen of the earwig is flexible and muscular. It is capable of maneuvering as well as opening and closing the forceps. The forceps are used for a variety of purposes. In some species, the forceps have also been observed in use for holding prey, and incopulation. The forceps tend to be more curved in males than in females.
Most earwigs found in Europe and North America are of the species Forficula auricularia, the European or common earwig, which is distributed throughout the cooler parts of the northern hemisphere. This species feeds on other insects, plants, ripe fruit, and garbage. Plants that they feed on typically include clover, dahlias, zinnias, butterfly bush, hollyhock, lettuce, cauliflower,strawberry, sunflowers, celery, peaches, plums, grapes, potatoes, roses, seedling beans andbeets, and tender grass shoots and roots; they have also been known to eat corn silk, damaging the corn. Typically they are a nuisance because of their diet, but normally do not present serious hazards to crops. Some tropical species are brightly colored. Occasionally earwigs are confused with cockroaches because of their cerci and their long antennae.
Earwigs are generally nocturnal and can be seen patrolling household walls and ceilings. Interaction with earwigs at this time results in a defensive free fall to the ground below, and the subsequent scramble to a nearby cleft or crevice. Earwigs are also drawn to damp conditions. During the summer, they can be found around sinks and in bathrooms. Earwigs tend to gather in shady cracks or openings or anywhere that they can remain concealed in daylight hours. Picnic tables, compost and waste bins, patios, lawn furniture, window frames, or anything with minute spaces (even artichoke blossoms) can potentially harbor these unwanted residents. Upon gaining entry to the basement and living areas of the home, earwigs can easily find cover in undisturbed magazine and newspaper piles, furniture/wickerwork, base boards, carpeted stairways, pet food dishes, and even inside DVD cases and keyboards. Earwigs are exploratory creatures and are often found trapped in poison baited cups or buckets of soapy water.
Adult Eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5 cm (2/3 to 2 inches) long, robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration may superficially resemble that ofyellowjackets or hornets. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance. European hornets (Vespa crabro) are often mistaken for Eastern cicada killers. species occurs in the eastern and midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them.
Life cycle and habits
Solitary wasps (such as the Eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such ashornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plantsap exudates. Adults emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July and continuing throughout the summer months. They are present in a given area for 60 to 75 days, until mid-September. The large females are commonly seen in mid-to-late summer skimming around lawns seeking good sites to dig burrows and searching shrubs and trees for cicadas.
The males are more often seen in groups, vigorously challenging one another for position on the breeding aggregation from which they emerged, and generally pursuing anything that moves or flies within close proximity. It is not unusual to see two or three male wasps locked together in midair combat, the aggregate adopting an erratic and uncontrolled flight path until one of the wasps breaks away. The male wasp's aggressive behavior is extremely similar to that of another robust insect of the area, the male carpenter bee. In both cases, while the males' vigorous territorial defense can be extremely frightening and intimidating to human passersby, the males pose no danger whatsoever. They will only grapple with other insects, and cannot sting.While they may be frightfully large, female cicada killer wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they are grasped roughly, stepped upon with bare feet, or caught in clothing, etc. One author who has been stung indicates that, for him, the stings are not much more than a "pinprick". Males aggressively defend their perching areas on nesting sites against rival males but they have no sting. Although they appear to attack anything which moves near their territories, male cicada killers are actually investigating anything which might be a female cicada killer ready to mate. Such close inspection appears to many people to be an attack, but male and female cicada killers don't land on people and attempt to sting. If handled roughly females will sting, and males will jab with a sharp spine on the tip of their abdomen. Both sexes are well equipped to bite, as they have large jaws; however, they don't appear to grasp human skin and bite. They are non-aggressive towards humans and usually fly away when swatted at, instead of attacking. Cicada killers exert a natural control on cicada populations and thus may directly benefit the deciduous trees upon which their cicada prey feed.
This ground-burrowing wasp may be found in well-drained, sandy soils to loose clay in bare or grass-covered banks, berms and hills as well as next to raised sidewalks, driveways and patio slabs. Females may share a burrow, digging their own nest cells off the main tunnel. A burrow is 15 to 25 cm (6 - 10 in.) deep and about 3 cm (1.5 in.) wide. The female dislodges the soil with her jaws and pushes loose soil behind her as she backs out of the burrow using her hind legs, which are equipped with special spines that help her push the dirt behind her. The excess soil pushed out of the burrow forms a mound with a trench through it at the burrow entrance. Cicada killers may nest in planters, window boxes, flower beds or under shrubs, ground cover, etc. Nests often are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse.
After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting; the cicadas then serve as food to rear their young. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp straddles it and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. After putting the cicada in the nest cell, the female deposits an egg on the cicada and closes the cell with dirt. Male eggs are laid on a single cicada but female eggs are given two or sometimes three cicadas; this is because the female wasp is twice as large as the male and must have more food. New nest cells are dug as necessary off the main burrow tunnel and a single burrow may eventually have 10 to 20 cells. The egg hatches in one or two days, and the cicadas serve as food for the grub. The larvae complete their development in about 2 weeks. Overwintering occurs as a mature larva within an earth-coated cocoon. Pupation occurs in the nest cell in the spring and lasts 25 to 30 days. There is only one generation per year and no adults overwinter.
This wasp is frequently attacked by the parasitic "velvet ant" wasp, Dasymutilla occidentalis, also known as the "cow-killer" wasp. It lays an egg in the nest cell of the cicada killer, and when the cicada killer larva pupates, the parasitoid larva consumes the pupa.
Fleas are small (1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long), agile, usually dark colored (for example, the reddish-brown of the cat flea), wingless insects with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their bodies are laterally compressed (human anatomical terms), permitting easy movement through the hairs or feathers on the host's body (or in the case of humans, under clothes). Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping (vertically up to seven inches (18 cm); horizontally thirteen inches (33 cm) - around 200 times their own body length, making the flea one of the best jumpers of all known animals (in comparison to body size), second only to thefroghopper. The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward, which also assists its movements on the host. Its tough body is able to withstand great pressure, likely an adaptation to survive attempts to eliminate them such as scratching. Even hard squeezing between the fingers is normally insufficient to kill the flea; it may be necessary to capture them with adhesive tape, crush them between the fingernails, roll them between the fingers, or put them in a fire-safe area and burn them with match or lighter. They can also be drowned. Flea larvae emerge from the eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, feces, and vegetable matter. They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding. Given an adequate supply of food, larvae should pupate and weave a silken cocoon within 1-2 weeks after 3 larval stages. After another week or two, the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from the cocoon. They may however remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near - vibrations (including sound), heat, and carbon dioxideare all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host. Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages.
Fleas lay tiny white oval shaped eggs. Their larvae are small and pale with bristles covering their worm-like body. They lack eyes, and have mouthparts adapted to chewing. While the adult flea's diet consists solely of blood, the larvae feed on various organic matter, including the feces of mature fleas. In the pupal phase the larvae are enclosed in a silken, debris-covered cocoon.
Life cycle and habitat
Fleas are holometabolous insects, going through the three life cycle stages of larva, pupa, and imago(adult). The flea life cycle begins when the female lays after feeding. Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction. Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which easily roll onto the ground. As such, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch.Flea larvae emerge from the eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, feces, and vegetable matter. They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding. Given an adequate supply of food, larvae should pupate and weave a silken cocoon within 1-2 weeks after 3 larval stages. After another week or two, the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from the cocoon. They may however remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near - vibrations (including sound), heat, and carbon dioxideare all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host. Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages.
Once the flea reaches adulthood its primary goal is to find blood - adult fleas must feed on blood in order to reproduce. Adult fleas only have around a week to find food once they emerge, though they can survive two months to a year between meals. A flea population is unevenly distributed, with 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae, and 5 percent adults. Their total life cycle can take as little as two weeks, but may be lengthened to many months if conditions are favorable. Female fleas can lay 500 or more eggs over their life, allowing for phenomenal growth rates.
The best-known bee species is the European honey bee, which, as its name suggests, produceshoney, as do a few other types of bee. Human management of this species is known as beekeeping or apiculture.
The true honey bees (genus Apis) have arguably the most complex social behavior among the bees. TheEuropean (or Western) honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the best known bee species and one of the best known of all insects.
Dolichovespula maculata is a North American insect which, despite commonly being called thebald-faced hornet (or white-faced hornet), is not a true hornet at all. It belongs to a genus ofwasps called yellowjackets in North America, and is more distantly related to true hornets like the Asian giant hornet or European hornet, but the term "hornet" is often used colloquially to refer to any vespine with an exposed aerial nest.
The bald-faced hornet lives throughout North America, including southern Canada, the Rocky Mountains, the western coast of the United States, and most of the eastern US. They are most common in the southeastern United States. They are best known for their large football-shapedpaper nest, which they build in the spring for raising their young. These nests can sometimes reach 3 feet tall. Like the median wasp Dolichovespula media in Europe, bald-faced hornets are extremely protective of their nests and will sting repeatedly if disturbed.
Every year young queens that were born and fertilized the previous year start a new colony and raise their young. The workers expand the nest by chewing up wood that mixes with a starch in their saliva, which they spread with their mandibles and legs to dry into paper. The workers also guard the nest and collect nectar and arthropods to feed the larvae. This continues through summer and into fall. As winter approaches, the wasps die, except for young fertilized queens which hibernate underground or in hollow trees. The nest is generally abandoned by winter, and will most likely not be reused. When spring arrives the young queens emerge, and the cycle begins again.
Bald-faced hornets visit flowers, especially in late summer, and can be minor pollinators. Like other social wasps, bald-faced hornets have a caste system made up of the following:
1. Queens — fertile females which begin the colonies and lay eggs.
2. Workers — infertile females which do the manual labor.
3. Drones — males, which have no stingers, and are born from unfertilized eggs.
Jumping spiders are generally diurnal, active hunters. Their well developed internal hydraulicsystem extends their limbs by altering the pressure of body fluid (blood) within them. This enables the spiders to jump without having large muscular legs like a grasshopper. The jumping spider can therefore jump 20 to 60 or even 75-80 times the length of their body. When a jumping spider is moving from place to place, and especially just before it jumps, it tethers a filament of silk to whatever it is standing on. Should it fall for one reason or another, it climbs back up the silk tether.
Jumping spiders are Scopula bearing spiders, which means that they have a very interesting Tarsal section. And the end of each leg they have hundreds of tiny hairs, which each then split into hundreds more tiny hairs, each tipped with an "end foot". These thousands of tiny feet allow them to climb up and across virtually any terrain. They can even climb up glass by gripping onto the tiny imperfections, usually an impossible task for any spider.
Jumping spiders also use their silk to weave small tent-like dwellings where females can protect their eggs, and which also serve as a shelter while moulting. Jumping spiders are known for their curiosity. If approached by a human hand, instead of scuttling away to safety as most spiders do, the jumping spider will usually leap and turn to face the hand. Further approach may result in the spider jumping backwards while still eyeing the hand. The tiny creature will even raise its forelimbs and "hold its ground". Because of this contrast to other arachnids, the jumping spider is regarded as inquisitive as it is seemingly interested in whatever approaches it.
These ants are often mistaken for winged termites since the winged adults swarm through cracks in basement walls or floors, crawl around and are attracted to lights. They live in the soil next to the building foundation, under basement floors, in concrete voids or in rotting wood, and feed on honeydew of subterranean aphids and mealybugs, which live on the roots of shrubs planted near residences. Winged forms are dark brown or blackish-brown with brownish, somewhat clouded wings and bodies measuring 3/8 to 1/4 inch long to the wing tips. Workers are pale yellowish-brown, about 5/32 to 3/16 inch long. They cluster around cracks and crevices and, when crushed, give off a strong odor, smelling like "citronella" or a certain kind of toilet soap. They are smooth, shiny, quite hairy, have 12-segmented antennae, one node petiole (long, pointed segment), small eyes on the head, uneven thorax profile and the anal opening at the end of the abdomen is circular surrounded by a fringe of hairs. Workers stay underground during the day and forage at night.
This ant nests in well-drained, clay or gravelly soil and makes the well-known small anthills with a central entrance. Workers are about 1/4 inch long, yellowish in color occurring in lawns, golf courses, pastures, under walks or stones and on trees. The abdomen is light tan with a darker brown band on each segment on the under and hind region. The head, thorax and legs are slightly darker orange-brown than the abdomen.
These are the common house ants which nest in woodwork, masonry, soil and rotted wood. They feed on sweets, meats, vegetables, honeydew and other insects. Workers are about 1/8 inch long, slender, shiny black, sometimes dark brown with two nodes in the petiole and a 12-segmented antennae with a three segmented club. Nests in the ground are detected by the very small craters of fine soil.
Mice range in size from 12 to 21 cm (4 to 8 inches) long (including a long tail). They weigh from .25 to 2 oz (7.1 to 57 g). The coat color ranges from white to brown to gray. Most mice have a pointed snout with long whiskers, round ears, and thin tails. Many mice scurry along the ground, but some can hop or jump.
Although mice may live up to two and a half years in captivity, the average mouse in the wild lives only about four months, primarily owing to heavy predation. Cats, wild dogs, foxes, birds of prey, snakes and even certain kinds of insects have been known to prey heavily upon mice. Nevertheless, because of its remarkable adaptability to almost any environment, and its ability to live commensally with humans, the mouse is regarded to be the second most successful mammalian genus living on Earth today, after humans.
Mice can at times be harmful pests, damaging and eating crops and spreading diseasesthrough their parasites and feces. In western North America, breathing dust that has come in contact with mouse feces has been linked to the deadly hantavirus.
Mud dauber (sometimes "dirt dauber," "dirt dobber," or "dirt diver" in the southern U.S.) is a name commonly applied to a number of wasps from either the family Sphecidae orCrabronidae that build their nests from mud. Mud dauber may refer to any of the following common species:
- The solid black organ pipe mud dauber, Trypoxylon politum (family Crabronidae)
- The black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium (family Sphecidae)
- The irridescent blue mud dauber, Chalybion californicum (family Sphecidae)
Mud daubers are long, slender wasps, the latter two species above with thread-like waists. The name of this wasp group comes from the nests that are made by the females, which consist of mud molded into place by the wasp's mandibles.
The organ-pipe mud dauber, as the name implies, builds nests in the shape of a cylindrical tube resembling an organ pipe or pan flute. The black and yellow mud dauber's nest is composed of a series of cylindrical cells that are plastered over to form a smooth nest about the size of a lemon. The metallic-blue mud dauber foregoes building a nest altogether and simply uses the abandoned nests of the other two species and preys primarily on black widow spiders.
Mud daubers are rarely aggressive. They do however pose a special risk to aircraft operation, as they are prone to nest in the small openings and tubes that compose aircraftpitot-static systems. Their presence in these systems can disable or impair the function of the airspeed indicator, the altimeter, and/or the vertical speed indicator. It is thought that mud dauber wasps were ultimately responsible for the crash of Birgenair Flight 301, which killed 189 passengers and crew.
These ants occasionally forage indoors for sweets and other foods. They give off an unpleasant odor when crushed, smelling like "rotten coconuts." Workers are brown to dark-brown in color, about 1/10 inch long. The petiole has one node (hidden by the abdomen) and the profile of the thorax is uneven.
This is one of the most common tiny house-invading ants in Ohio with nests usually found outdoors under stones, in pavement cracks, along the curb edges and in crevices of masonry and woodwork. Pavement ants may forage in the home throughout the year, feeding on grease, meat, live and dead insects, honeydew, roots of plants and planted seeds. Workers are sluggish, between 1/12 to 1/4 inch long, light to dark brown or blackish, hairy, 12-segmented antennae with a three segmented club, a pair of short spines at the rear of the thorax, two nodes in the petiole, pale legs and antennae, and the head and thorax furrowed with parallel lines or grooves running top to bottom. In winter, nests may be found in the home near a heat source.
This ant is a serious nuisance in hospitals, rest homes, apartment dwellings, hotels, grocery stores, food establishments, etc. They feed on jellies, honey, shortening, peanut butter, corn syrup, fruit juices, soft drinks, greases, dead insects, and even shoe polish. They have been found in surgical wounds, I.V. glucose solutions, and sealed packs of sterile dressing in hospitals. These ants are capable of mechanically transmitting diseases, Staphylecoccus and Psuedomonas infections in hospitals. Workers are very small about 1/16 inch long, light yellow to reddish-brown colored with the hind portion of the abdomen somewhat darker. The petiole has two nodes and the thorax is spineless. The antennae has 12 segments with the antennal club composed of three segments.
Pillbugs (woodlice of the family Armadillidiidae) can be confused with pill millipedes although they are only very distantly related to one another.
Both of these groups of terrestrial segmented arthropods are about the same size. They live in very similar habitats, and they can both roll up into a ball. Both pill millipedes and pillbugs appear superficially similar to the naked eye. This is an example of convergent evolution.
Pill millipedes can be distinguished from woodlice on the basis of having two pairs of legs per body segment instead of one pair like all isopods. Pill millipedes also have thirteen body segments, whereas the woodlouse has eleven. In addition, pill millipedes are smoother, and resemble normal millipedes in overall colouring and the shape of the segments.
The larvae of these beetles reduce timbers to a mass of very fine, powder-like substance.
Adults do little damage, it is the larvae that does the major part of the damage.They go through a complete metamorphosis: adults, eggs, larvae and pupae.
You can easily recognize the work of powder post beetles. When the adults emerge, usually in June, some species leave small holes about the size of a pin in the surface of the wood; others make holes the size of pencil lead. From these holes, a fine, powder like brood of larvae carry on their destructive feeding. Normally, these insects have a 1-year life cycle; this means that the adults will appear only once each year. And because of this habit the larvae have a feeding period of many months.
True Powderpost Beetles(Lyctidae):
The adults are very small, less than 1/4" in size. They are flattened and reddish-brown to black in color. Larvae are white, cream colored, shaped with dark brown heads. Larvae create tunnels in the wood and become pupae. As adults they bore out through the wood, pushing a fine powdery dust out.The shape of their holes are round ,about 1/32-1/16 pinholes.
They attack hardwoods depositing their eggs. True Powder post beetles breed in dead and dried hardwoods such as the dead branches and limbs of trees. Their presence is overlooked until they are discovered in stored lumber, rafters, joists, finished wood, and furniture products. As a rule, they enter lumber while it is being stored and cured, then later, emerge from the finished product. Old items of furniture and wood antiques are especially vulnerable to attack by the beetles.
Damage is usually to the starch-rich sapwood of large-pored hardwoods such as ash, hickory, oak, walnut and cherry. The hardwood floors of new homes are commonly attacked.
Their diet is starch, sugar and protein in the sapwood of hardwoods Wood that is less than 6% moisture content is seldom attacked. The life cycle averages one year to complete. This wood-boring beetle is the most widespread in the United States. Many times infestations are built into structures from infested lumber. They can re infest.
Lycid damage is characterized by:
- Presence of extremely fine, flour like powder falling from the surface holes.
- The frass left by other wood borers usually contains pellets, has a course texture and a tendency to stick together.
- When inspecting damage, be sure to distinguish old damage from active beetle infestations.
- Recently formed holes and frass(sawdust like) are light in color and clear in appearance - old holes and frass are dark in color.
It is usually black to light brown in colour with a lighter underside. A typical rat will be 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) long with a further 20 cm (7.9 in) of tail. It is nocturnal and omnivorous, with a preference for grains. In a suitable environment it will breed throughout the year, with a female producing three to six litters of up to ten young. Females may regulate their production of offspring during times when food is scarce, throwing as few as only one litter a year. R. rattus lives for about 2–3 years. Social groups of up to sixty can be formed.
These ants, sometimes called "cold weather ants," normally nest outdoors in the soil, but occasionally can be found in kitchens feeding on food and beverages. They forage along scent (pheromone) trails on counter tops with 12 or more ants in a line. Workers vary from light to dark brown (almost black) in color, are very shiny, have a triangular abdomen and are about 1/8 inch long. The petiole has one node, the profile of the thorax is uneven and the first antennal segment (scape) is longer than the head.
Termites remain hidden within wood and are often difficult to detect. However, subterranean termites may be detected by the presence of winged reproductives, mud tubes, and wood damage.
Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies consisting of many individuals. The colonies are composed of workers, soldiers and reproductives. The workers, which are about 1/8 inch long, have no wings, are white to cream colored and very numerous. Soldiers defend the colony against insects, like ants, that can attack the colony. Soldiers are wingless and white in color with large brown heads and mandibles (jaws). King and queen termites perform the reproductive functions of the colony. They are dark brown to black in color and have two pairs of wings about twice the length of their body.
Subterranean termites feed on wood or other items that contain cellulose, such as paper, fiberboard, and some fabrics derived from cotton or plant fibers. Termites have protozoa in their digestive tracts that can convert cellulose into usable food.
Subterranean termites nest in the soil to obtain moisture, but they also nest in wood that is often wet. They easily attack any wood in contact with the ground. If the wood does not contact the soil, they can build mud tunnels or tubes to reach wood several feet above the ground. These tunnels can extend for 50-60 feet to reach wood and often enter a structure through expansion joints in concrete slabs or where utilities enter the house.
The Formosan subterranean termite is often nicknamed the super-termite because of its destructive habits. This is because of the large size of its colonies, and the termites' ability to consume wood at a rapid rate. A single colony may contain several million (compared with several hundred thousand termites for other subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 feet (100 m) in soil. A mature Formosan colony can consume as much as 13 ounces of wood a day and severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of colonies poses serious threats to nearby structures. Once established, Formosan subterranean termite has never been eradicated from an area.
Formosan subterranean termites infest a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-risecondominiums) and can damage trees. In the United States it is responsible for tremendous property damage resulting in large treatment and repair costs.
Winged reproductives emerge from colonies in great numbers usually in the spring and during the daylight hours. Usually termites are first noticed by the presence of winged reproductives. Mating occurs during these flights, and males and females form new colonies. Winged termites can be distinguished from flying ants by their thick-waist, straight antennae and wings of equal size.
These ants are prevalent around kitchen sinks and in the cupboards, feeding on grease, oils, cheese, meat, dead insects, etc. They don't seem to feed on sweets. Workers are very small ants, about 1/32 to 1/20 inch long, smooth, shiny, yellowish to bronze colored with two nodes in the petiole, a 10- segmented antennae with a two segmented club, thorax without spines and small eyes on the head. It nests in the soil or wood, robs the food and brood of other ants, hollows out seeds for the oil content and may feed on dead rodents.
A wasp is a predatory flying stinging insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. A narrower and simpler but popular definition of the term wasp is any member of the aculeate family Vespidae. Wasps are critically important in natural biocontrol as almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that is a predator upon it.
The various species of wasp fall into one of two main categories: solitary wasps and social wasps. Adult solitary wasps generally live and operate alone, and most do not construct nests (below); all adult solitary wasps are fertile. By contrast, social wasps exist in colonies numbering up to several thousand strong and build nests—but in some cases not all of the colony can reproduce. In the more advanced species, just the wasp queen and male wasps can mate, whilst the majority of the colony is made up of sterile female workers.
Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae, from the Greek word "λύκος" meaning "wolf". They are robust and agile hunters, and have good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic wanderer hunters, pouncing upon prey as they find it or chasing it over short distances. Others lie in wait for passing prey, often from or near the mouth of a burrow.
Like all species, wolf spiders have a primitive body structure, with a head used mainly for eating and breathing, and an abdomen, which carries all the spider's organs, including the spinnerets. Many of the sub- species, which include the large and common grey wolf spider, are a mixture of greys and light browns, hence the name.
Yellowjacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as "wasps" in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black-and-yellow; some are black-and-white (such as the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata), while others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, small size (similar to or slightly smaller or larger than a honey bee), their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. They are often mistakenly called "bees". All females are capable ofstinging. Yellowjackets are important predators of pest insects.
A typical yellowjacket worker is about 12 mm (0.5 inches) long, with alternating bands on the abdomen while the queen is larger, about 19 mm (0.75 inches) long (the different patterns on the abdomen help separate various species). Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger with small barbs and typically sting repeatedly, though occasionally the sting becomes lodged and pulls free of the wasp's body; the venom, like most bee/wasp venoms, is primarily only dangerous to those who are allergic, unless a victim receives a large number of stings (main article: Bee sting). All species have yellow or white on the face. Mouthparts are well-developed for capturing and chewing insects, with a proboscis for sucking nectar, fruit and other juices. Nests are built in trees, shrubs or in protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, in sheds, under porches and eaves of houses), or in soil cavities, mouse burrows, etc. Nests are made from wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp. Yellowjackets have two antennae and two wings. These two wings are distinctive because they fold in half length-wise.
Due to their aggressive behavior, including stinging, many other insects exhibit mimicry of yellowjackets; in addition to numerous bees andwasps (Müllerian mimicry), the list includes some flies, moths, and beetles (Batesian mimicry). Yellowjackets' closest relatives, the hornets, closely resemble them but have a much bigger head, seen especially in the large distance from the eyes to the back of the head.