Other Pests




Silver fish

SIZE: 1/2 to 1 inch (12.7-25.4mm)
COLOUR: Brown or silver-gray

DESCRIPTION: Silverfish are small, soft insects without wings. The abdomen has three filaments extending from it.Silverfish are not often seen by homeowners because they are nocturnal and can run very swiftly. Occasionally, they are found in bathtubs. They crawl in seeking food or moisture and can’t climb out. These insects prefer vegetable matter with a high carbohydrate and protein content. However, indoors they will feed on almost anything. A partial list includes dried beef, flour, starch, paper, gum, glue, cotton, linen, rayon, silk, sugar, molds and breakfast cereals.

HABITAT: Silverfish normally live outdoors under rocks, bark and leaf mold, in the nests of birds and mammals, and in ant and termite nests. However, many are found in houses and are considered a pest, or at least a nuisance, by homeowners. Usually they are found trapped in a bathtub, sink, or washbasin.

LIFE CYCLE: Adults lay eggs in small groups containing a few to 50 eggs. The eggs are very small and deposited in cracks and crevices. A female normally lays less than 100 eggs during her lifespan of two to eight years. Under ideal conditions, the eggs hatch in two weeks, but may take up to two months to hatch.

The young nymphs are very much like the adults except for size. Several years are required before they are sexually mature, and they must mate after each molt if viable eggs are to be produced. Populations do not build up rapidly because of their slow development rate and the small number of eggs laid.


TYPE OF DAMAGE: A household pest, they feed on cereals and non-food items such as paste, paper, starch in clothes, rayon fabrics and dried meats.

CONTROL: Sanitation alone will not eliminate an infestation, although it may prevent new ones from starting. A large infestation usually means the house has been infested for some time.

Residual insecticides (use an aerosol) will help to control these pests. Removing old papers, boxes, books, and clothes from the attic to basement will help remove food and hiding places. Moth crystals placed in boxes in the attic will also help.

INTERESTING FACTS: They can go for up to one year without food.


Carpet Beetle

Carpet Beetle

Coleoptera: Dermestidae
SIZE: About 1/4 inch (6.4mm)
COLOUR: Dark with some colored marks on back

DESCRIPTION: The four most important and most common species are the black carpet beetle (Attagenus mezatoma) shown here, the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), the common carpet beetle(Anthrenus scrophulariae), and the furniture beetle (Anthrenus flavipes). The adults feed primarily on pollen and nectar and can be found on outdoor plants during the summer.

They are small, oval insects, usually less than 1/4 inch long. Carpet beetle larvae are usually about the size of the adult beetle, 1/4 inch or less in length. They have dense tufts of long setae (bristles) on their bodies. Black carpet beetle larvae have a long tuft of hair at the end of their bodies.

Adult carpet beetles are commonly found indoors at windows. Carpet beetle larvae often wander about the infested location– from room to room in a house. This behavior results in spreading the infestation throughout the house.

LIFE CYCLE: All of these beetle species have a complete life cycle–egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Adults can mate and reproduce without feeding. Females can lay from 30 to 100 eggs, depending on the species. Eggs are laid in lint, behind and under baseboards, in floor cracks, or other dark and protected locations. Eggs hatch in one to three weeks.

Larvae develop over a 3 to 36 month period and can molt (shed their skin) from 5 to 12 times. The pupal stage lasts 6 to 24 days, but the adult may take up to three weeks before it emerges.

TYPE OF DAMAGE: The larval stages cause damage to a variety of material. Their preferred food varies with the species, but all carpet beetle larvae can feed on wool carpets and other wool products, furs, hides, horns, feathers, hair, and silk. They will also feed on linen, cotton, and rayon if these fabrics are soiled with juice, food, or animal excreta.

They can be pests in cereals, stored grains, nuts, meal, Indian corn, red pepper, and similar products.

Carpet beetle larvae are frequently pests of insect collections and other museum specimens.

CONTROL: The best way to attack a carpet beetle problem is prevention! Vacuum regularly, do not store soiled fabrics (that is fabric that has been exposed to food spills), and use moth crystals or flakes when storing wool or other potential food of carpet beetles.

When an infestation has become established, it is necessary to locate–as best possible–the source of the infestation in the house. Check all potential food materials inside the house. Carpet beetles may be coming from an abandoned bird or bee/wasp nest or from a dead mouse or squirrel in a wall. Discard all infested material.

INTERESTING FACTS: The old skins are often mistaken for live larvae, and can give the impression of a larger infestation than really exists.


Clothes Moth

Clothes Moth

William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
Webbing Clothes Moth Tineola bisselliella (Hummel)
Casemaking Clothes Moth Tinea pellionella (Linnaeus)
Carpet or Tapestry Moth Trichophaga tapetzella (Linnaeus)

Clothes moth larvae feed on wool, feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, dust, paper, and occasionally cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic fibers. They are especially damaging to fabric stained with beverages, urine, oil from hair, and sweat. Most damage is done to articles left undisturbed for a long time, such as old military uniforms and blankets, wool upholstery, feathered hats, antique dolls and toys, natural bristle brushes, weavings, wall hangings, piano felts, old furs, and especially wool carpets under heavy furniture and clothing in storage.

Damaged fabrics have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae and often have silken cases, lines of silken threads, and fecal pellets over the surface of the materials. Moths are destructive during the larvae stage. Adult “millers” or moths are entirely harmless.


Adult webbing clothes moths have a wingspread of about 1/2-inch. The body is about 1/4-inch long with wings folded and golden-yellow with a satiny sheen. A tuft of hairs on the head is upright and reddish-gold. Eggs are oval, ivory, and about 1/24-inch long. Larvae are a shiny, creamy white with a brown head, up to 1/2-inch long. The larvae spin long threads and construct tunnels of silk.

Webbing Clothes Moth and Eggs – Larva and Larva Damage

Adult casemaking clothes moths have a 1/2-inch wingspread. Forewings are yellowish-brown, and there are usually three distinct, dark dots on the outer third of each wing. Hind wings are smaller, lighter, and fringed with hair and scales. Eggs are whitish, and larvae are opaque-white with brown heads. The larva spins a small silken case around itself and carries it while feeding.

Casemaking Clothes Moth: Adult and Larva

Adult carpet or tapestry moths are larger than webbing or casemaking clothes moths at 1/3- to 5/12-inch long with a 3/4-inch wingspread. Adults have white heads, with the first third of the front wings black and the lower two-thirds creamy white. Hind wings are pale gray. Larvae are small, creamy white caterpillars with dark heads.

Life Cycle and Habits:

Clothes moths rarely fly to lights at night and instead prefer darkness, such as a closet or storage chest. Any clothes moths fluttering around the house are probably males, because females travel by either running, hopping, or trying to hide in the folds of clothing. Female webbing clothes moths lay 40 to 50 eggs that hatch in 4 to 21 days. Larvae like to feed on soiled material, spinning silken mats or tunnels and incorporating textile fragments and bits of fecal pellets. Larvae will wander some distance away from their food source to pupate in crevices. The pupa case is silken with bits of fiber and excrement attached to the outside. The life cycle is about 65 to 90 days.

The casemaking clothes moth is less common than the webbing clothes moth. Larvae spin a small silken case around themselves as they feed. This cigar-shaped case enlarges as the larva grows. When crawling, the larva’s head, thorax, and three pairs of legs, outside the case, drag it along. It does not spin a web of silk over the food material but eats clean-cut holes, not usually in one spot. Females live about 30 days and lay 100 to 300 eggs. The larva stage lasts 50 or more days, and the pupal stage is passed in the case or cocoon. There are about 2 generations a year.

Adult carpet or tapestry moths are rarely found. Females lay 50 to 100 eggs in a lifetime, and the larva develops in about 3 months as it builds silken tubes or burrows through infested materials, such as hair-stuffed furniture, tapestries, old carpets, furs, and feathers.

Clothes moth development is greatly influenced by humidity. About 75-percent relative humidity in a heated, dark room is ideal.

Control Measures:

Inspection: Locate the source of infestation before treatment. Examine closets and stored goods for larvae cases, moths, and damage. Larvae prefer to feed in secluded, dark places. Use a flashlight and nail file to check for woolen lint and hair under baseboards, in and under seldom moved upholstered furniture, in air ducts, in carpets at the corners of the room and along edges, in stored clothing, and in other places not readily accessible. Check furs or feathers, such as stuffed birds or animal heads, antique feather beds, or felt in pianos, woolen scrap piles, etc. Adult moths do not feed in fabrics, but may be seen in darkened corners at night.

A new pheromone for the webbing clothes moth is available through Insects Limited Inc., 1-800-992-1991 or 317-846-3399, fax: 317-846-9799.

Prevention: Good housekeeping is critical for preventing or controlling clothes moth damage. Never allow clothing, rugs, etc. to lie in a neglected pile. Regular use of a strong suction vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to remove lint, hair, and dust from floor cracks, baseboards, air ducts, carpets, and upholstered furniture is necessary. Keep closets and dresser drawers clean. Regularly clean rugs where they fit close to the baseboards and under the quarter round. Inspect stored foods and eliminate bird nests and dead rodents. Launder and dry clean or steam clean clothes and other items before storage. Egg-laying clothes moths are attracted to soiled articles. Ironing will also destroy all stages of clothes moths. Sun, brush, and expose clothing to the weather. Outdoors, bright, hot sunlight, and wind will reduce larvae and damage. Frequent use of woolens and other animal fiber clothing almost assures no damage from clothes moth larvae.

Cedar-lined chests and closets are not 100 percent effective. The natural cedar oil evaporates and a fresh treatment of cedar oil should be applied every two years. Be sure that all cloth goods be dry cleaned, washed, pressed with a hot iron, sunned, or brushed prior to storage in an airtight container with an effective moth repellent.

Constant light illumination in the closet may discourage moths. Use tight-fitting doors. Try suspending wall to floor cotton drapes in front of clothing to keep dust and moths away. Fur storage in cold vaults is effective. Moth-proofing when woolens are manufactured may be effective forever, whereas treatments at dry cleaners are less permanent and need to be renewed regularly.

Freezing has been successfully used to control clothes moths. Place fabric in polyethylene bags, squeeze all air out to minimize condensation, and deep freeze the materials for three days. Infested antique objects should be either fumigated or deep frozen by an experienced licensed pest control operator.

Insecticides: It is best not to treat clothing with insecticides due to possible damage to the garments. All cracks and crevices in infested areas should be treated with a residual insecticide. After thoroughly cleaning rugs, rug pads, under heavy furniture, and carpets, especially around the edges, dust with bendiocarb (Ficam D) under the edges of carpeting, cracks in closets, under baseboard, and molding or other hiding places. Any wall void that might contain old rodent, bird, or insect nests should be drilled and dusted.

Sprays of pyrethrins (Exciter, Kicker, Pyrenone) and permethrin can be used as spot treatments to kill any moths that might alight or wandering larvae. Do not treat clothing. The licensed pest control operator or applicator can use sprays of bendiocarb (Ficam W), bendiocarb + pyrethrins (Ficam Plus), cyfluthrin (Tempo), or tralomethrin (Saga) in such places. Infested stuffed furniture and other salvageable commodities should be fumigated by a licensed pest control operator or applicator. Before using any insecticides, always read the label directions and follow safety precautions.

Indian Meal Moth

William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
Indianmeal Moth Plodia interpunctella (Hubner)

The Indianmeal Moth is considered the most troublesome of the grain-infesting moths in Ohio. Damage is caused by the larvae spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl, thus webbing food particles together. Besides infesting all cereal food products and whole grains, larvae also feed on a wide variety of foods and feeds such as dried fruits, powdered milk, cornmeal, flour, raisins, prunes, nuts, chocolate, candies, health food and seeds, bird seed, dog and cat food, fish food, graham crackers, dried red peppers, pastas, etc.

Sometimes mistaken as clothes moths, homeowners first notice small moths flying in a zigzag fashion around rooms (kitchens and pantries) in the home. These moths fly mostly at night and are attracted to lights and may appear in the living room near or in front of television sets. Occasionally, the larvae or “white worms with black heads” crawl up walls and suspend from the ceiling attached to a single silken thread. Other times, a few larvae may be found in a food package along with unsightly webbing, cast skins and frass (fecal pellets). It is repulsive to the homeowner and costly to the manufacturer. Packages of whole wheat, graham flour and corn meal are often infested. Most complaints in Ohio occur during the months of July and August, but often appear in other months as well. Some adult moths do fly into the home during summer months through open doors or windows, but most “hitchhike” inside in packaged goods and groceries. Not only homes, but restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses, pet stores, seed companies, mills etc., become infested.

The Indianmeal Moth is considered the most troublesome of the grain-infesting moths in Ohio. Damage is caused by the larvae spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl, thus webbing food particles together. Besides infesting all cereal food products and whole grains, larvae also feed on a wide variety of foods and feeds such as dried fruits, powdered milk, cornmeal, flour, raisins, prunes, nuts, chocolate, candies, health food and seeds, bird seed, dog and cat food, fish food, graham crackers, dried red peppers, pastas, etc.

Sometimes mistaken as clothes moths, homeowners first notice small moths flying in a zigzag fashion around rooms (kitchens and pantries) in the home. These moths fly mostly at night and are attracted to lights and may appear in the living room near or in front of television sets. Occasionally, the larvae or “white worms with black heads” crawl up walls and suspend from the ceiling attached to a single silken thread. Other times, a few larvae may be found in a food package along with unsightly webbing, cast skins and frass (fecal pellets). It is repulsive to the homeowner and costly to the manufacturer. Packages of whole wheat, graham flour and corn meal are often infested. Most complaints in Ohio occur during the months of July and August, but often appear in other months as well. Some adult moths do fly into the home during summer months through open doors or windows, but most “hitchhike” inside in packaged goods and groceries. Not only homes, but restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses, pet stores, seed companies, mills etc., become infested.


Adult moths are about 3/8-inch (8 to 10mm) long when at rest and have a wing spread of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (18 to 20mm). When viewed from above with the wings folded over the back, the outer 2/3 of the wing appears reddish-brown or bronze colored “at the wing tips” while the inner 2/3 of the wing “at the basal portion” is light gray to ochre-yellow. Also, the head and thorax are reddish-brown and the hind wings gray. The larvae or “caterpillars” are about 2/3 inch (12.5mm) when mature. Brown-headed larvae are dirty white, sometimes tinged pink or green. Larvae are quite active and molt four to seven times before pupating. Pupae are reddish-brown and about 3/8-inch long. Eggs are grayish to dirty white and from 0.3 to 0.5mm long.

Life Cycle and Habits

The female moth lays between 60 and 300 eggs, singly or in clusters, on or near the foodstuffs. Eggs hatch in 2 to 14 days with larvae or “tiny whitish caterpillars” dispersing within a few hours. Larvae move to foodstuffs, and feed in or near a tunnel-like case of frass and silk which they web together. Some food becomes matted with silken webbing. The larval stage is the feeding or “pest stage,” and may range from 2 to 41 weeks, depending on the temperature. In stored grains, feeding is done at the surface. When ready to pupate, mature larvae leave their tubes and spin a silken cocoon. They often migrate or “wander” a considerable distance from their food source before finding the pupation site, often in cracks and crevices. Some crawl up walls to where the wall and ceiling meet or crawl to the top of the cupboard to spin the cocoon in which they pupate and from which new adult moths emerge. Mating occurs and the life cycle is repeated. The life cycle may range from the shortest period of four weeks to the longest of 300 days. Under good conditions, the entire life cycle requires six to eight weeks. However, in cold climates, larvae overwinter and pupate in March. Moths emerge in April. Generations overlap as the season progresses. There may be five generations per year in some locations. The life cycle depends on temperature, taking two to six months in temperate zones and three to four weeks in warm climates.

Control Measures

  1. Before purchasing, examine foods such as milled cereal products, flour and dried fruit for infestations. Examine broken and damaged packages and boxes to avoid bringing stored pests accidentally into the home. Check the packaging date to ensure freshness.
  2. Purchase seldom-used foods in small quantities to prevent long storage periods of a month or more. Susceptible material stored for six months or more, especially during the hot summer months, has the possibility of developing into serious infestations. Store susceptible foods in insect-proof containers of glass, metal or plastic ware with tight-fitting lids, ideally screw-type. Highly susceptible foods, such as spices, can be kept in the refrigerator and other foods in the freezer. Always use older packages first, and inspect frequently to avoid any spillage which might attract insects. Properly ventilate the storage area to discourage moisture-loving pests.
  3. Foods of questionable infestations or even lightly infested can be supercooled or superheated. Place exposed or suspect foods in a freezer at 0°F. for four to seven days or in a microwave oven for five minutes or in a shallow pan or tray in the oven at 140°F for one hour or 120°F for two hours. Spread the material thinly to permit effective cold or heat penetration to kill all life stages of the pest. If in the oven, stir food periodically to prevent possible scorching. Dried fruits can be placed in cheese cloth bags and dipped into boiling water for six to ten seconds to kill external pests. However, seeds saved for planting may have the germination reduced after superheating or cooling. Sifting the food material will remove possible insect fragments and any remaining will not cause harm if consumed. After insects are killed, contaminated food might be used outdoors during winter months for bird feed.
  4. Careful sanitation is the best method to avoid stored product pests. After removing all food, food packages, utensils, dishes, etc. from the cupboard, shelves or storage area, use a strong suction vacuum cleaner with proper attachments to clean up all spilled foods (toaster crumbs, cornmeal, bits of pet food, raisins, etc.) from cracks and crevices, behind and under appliances and furniture. Pull out heavy appliances from the wall and scrub with soap and hot water. The ability of these insects to find a small amount of food and survive is amazing. After shelves are thoroughly dry, cover with clean, fresh paper or foil before replacing with food or cooking utensils. Remove and destroy any cocoons found in cupboards and other sites.
  5. Locate the source of infestation and quickly get rid of it. Dispose of heavily infested foods in wrapped, strong, plastic bags or in sealed containers for garbage disposal service or bury deep in the soil if permitted and practical. If detection is made early, it may be the only material infested and the problem is solved. Be sure to carefully examine seldom-used foods, especially in least disturbed storage areas. One can spread suspected foods on a tray to determine whether infestation is widespread. Inspect unopened cardboard boxes since pests can chew into these boxes and plastic inserts.
  6. Pheromone traps are commercially available for inspection, monitoring, and pinpointing infestations of adult Indianmeal moths. Insects use pheromones to communicate with each other, and are natural compounds created in the insect body. Many have been isolated in the laboratory and now used to lure insects into sticky traps.Adult moths live only five to seven days with their major function to reproduce. Male moths are attracted to pheromone scent (sex-attractant). Traps can be hung indoors next to the ceiling, behind shelves, etc. to capture moths on a sticky board. In food warehouses, some use five traps per 1,000 square feet. A few well-placed traps (about $6.00 each) can detect moths. About one in eight Indianmeal moths that approach a pheromone trap enters it. The trap alone is a “monitoring tool” not a control method.For pheromone trap information, contact:Insects Limited
    10540 Jessup Boulevard
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46256-1451
    Telephone: 1-800-992-1991
  7. The use of insecticides is discouraged around food materials. However, aerosol sprays of synergized pyrethrins, labeled for this use, will control nuisance moths flying around rooms. (Follow label directions and safety precautions). If the problem becomes severe and widespread, contact a reputable, licensed pest control operator who has the training, experience, equipment, and insecticides to get the control job accomplished.

This publication contains pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide. It is always the pesticide applicator’s responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used. Due to constantly changing labels and product registration, some of the recommendations given in this writing may no longer be legal by the time you read them. If any information in these recommendations disagrees with the label, the recommendation must be disregarded. No endorsement is intended for products mentioned, nor is criticism meant for products not mentioned. The author, The Ohio State University and Ohio State University Extension assume no liability resulting from the use of these recommendations.


William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
Booklice Liposcelis corrodens
Barklice Trogium spp.
Psocids Lachesilla spp.
Psyllipsocus spp.
Lepinotus spp.

Booklice, known as paper lice, may crawl in large numbers over stored papers, books, walls, furniture, and other materials in damp, warm, undisturbed areas in buildings especially during the spring and summer months. Sometimes they are found in newly-constructed dwellings containing uncured green lumber or plastered walls. They feed on microscopic mold and mildew associated with high-humidity conditions. Outdoor species are called barklice since they are found under tree bark or leaves. They do not bite humans or animals, spread disease, or damage household furnishings. However, skin irritation may occur on some sensitive individuals.


Booklice (psocids) are minute, soft-bodied, transparent to grayish-white insects about 1/32 to 3/16 inch (1 to 4 mm) long, usually wingless, and may go unnoticed. It is helpful to use a hand lens and flashlight for detection. They resemble lice in size, but are not in the same order as true lice. The head and abdomen appear large, while the thorax (midsection) is narrow. The antennae are long, threadlike, and segmented. Some have chewing mouthparts and large eyes that protrude from the sides of the head. The young appear almost colorless, becoming more opaque with age. They run along exposed surfaces in a jerky, halting manner, and sometimes appear to hop. Outdoor psocids may be winged or wingless. If winged, they are weak fliers and hold the wings in a roof-like position over the body when at rest.

Life Cycle and Habits

Booklice are all females and development occurs from unfertilized eggs (parthenogenesis). Females deposit an average of 60 eggs that are white, oval, and covered with a crusty coating. Eggs are laid singly or in clusters near a food source where young white nymphs hatch and feed on molds and mildews. There are four to six nymphal stages with the immatures resembling the adults in form and structure. The life cycle, from egg to adult, takes four weeks to two months or more depending on environmental conditions. There may be seven to eight generations per year with adults dying in cold weather and eggs hatching the following spring. Booklice avoid light and prefer temperatures of 75 to 85F. with relative humidities of 75 to 90 percent. Long periods of humid weather, accompanied by warmth, favor outbreaks.

These insects feed on microscopic molds, fungi, dead insect fragments, pollen, and other starchy foods found in humid environments such as houses, warehouses, libraries, and structures where green lumber is stored or used. Sweating and high humidities may form in wall voids when new lumber becomes enclosed, encouraging booklouse outbreaks. Damp basements, crawl spaces, leaky and sweating plumbing, potted house plants, cereal, flour, bird nests, furniture stuffings of natural plant fiber, paste on book bindings, grains, wallpaper, etc. may harbor booklice.

Control Measures

Lowering the relative humidity hinders development or causes death due to desiccation (drying out). Effort should be made to reduce the relative humidity in rooms and buildings to less than 50 percent, drying out of infested materials, and eliminating the food source such as molds and mildews.


Use a vacuum cleaner with proper attachments to remove debris from cracks and corners of storage areas. Clean up spilled food stuffs such as cereals, and flour. Foods stored for six months or more sometimes become infested especially in damp, dark, warm, undisturbed habitats.

Infested cereals or stored foods can be discarded or supercooled in a deep freeze at 0F for seven days. Books, papers, or upholstered furniture can be dried in sunlight. Ventilate and dry areas with a dehumidifier or fan, or simply open the doors of a damp room. Infestations will usually disappear during late autumn when rooms are artificially heated and kept dry. Even with a new structure containing green lumber and freshly plastered walls, enough drying occurs after one season of summer heating so that infestations rarely occur in the following years.

Store cardboard boxes, books, and papers off the floor and repair plumbing leaks and drains to eliminate standing water. Vent the clothes dryer to the outside and remove leaf litter, vines, and other debris from around building foundations including ground-level window wells. Install a vapor barrier in the crawl space or add additional ventilation in the crawl space or basement. Regrade wet areas around the building and install a drainage tile system to handle rain runoff in problem areas. Seal cracks in interior and exterior foundation walls and repair leaking rain gutters, down spouts, roof vents, and roofs. Allow damp firewood to dry out before bringing indoors.


Normally chemical control is not needed if strict sanitation is practiced. Booklice cause no negligible damage to commodities. They are a nuisance by their presence, crawling over areas in large populations. Some apply mothball flakes, naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene in infested closets or file cabinets. Household products that control mold and mildew will reduce the food source of booklice. Treat wall and ceiling voids, attics not used for storage, and cracks and crevices around baseboards, door and window framing and other infested habitats. Household pressurized aerosol cans containing pyrethrins applied on booklice and their habitats are useful indoors, while treatments of propoxur (Baygon), diazinon or chlorpyrifos (Dursban) may be applied to structure foundations, rotting logs, grass piles, tree bark, etc.

Only the licensed pest control operator or applicator can use silica gel-pyrethrins (PT 230 Tri-Die), boric acid (PT 240 Perma Dust), propoxur (PT 250 Baygon), diazinon (PT 260), or chlorpyrifos (PT 270 Dursban). Before using any insecticides, be sure to read the label and follow directions and safety precautions.


Caterpillars: The Larvae of Moths and Butterflies

Page Intro: Perhaps the most devastating pests — they do, after all, take larger bites than most of the others. On this page you’ll first get some background, then you’ll discover how they become a problem, learn that caterpillars are a serious pest, followed by some advice, something for the scout, and then some solutions.

Some Background

Caterpillars are, collectively, the larvae of moths and butterflies which are members of the order Lepidoptera. There are over 110,000 different species in this order, so nearly everyone has had, or will have, hands-on experiences with these guys — especially in outdoor crops and gardens, though some will invade greenhouses and other structures. Caterpillars are varied in name as some are called loopers or worms (i.e. cabbage loopers, hornworms and inchworms), some are actually soil pests such as cutworms, while other are called borers, but one fact remains that they are always moth or butterfly larvae and can be extremely destructive. [Intro]

How They Become a Problem

Infestations begin at different times of the year depending upon the life-cycle of the particular moth or butterfly in question. Many start their lives by hatching out of overwintered eggs late in the spring. Many will repeat this cycle of life many times over during the course of a growing season, while some have just one annual fling. Exponential growth, like that which is inevitable with aphids, should not be expected from caterpillars. They make up for their lack of reproductive capacity, though, by being ravenous feeders cutting gaping chunks and holes out of leaves or chopping into or tunneling through some fruits. Some species have been known to defoliate entire trees — even whole forests. Some are so gluttonous you actually hear them eating — which has been said of sizable tomato hornworms.

Many species of caterpillars begin the season as overwintered eggs. They hatch and mobilize to their feeding area, which at its furthest will be very close at hand. For example, Madame Butterfly lays her eggs at the base of a tree whose leaves will feed her next season’s offspring. If your timing is right, you may actually be a witness to an army of caterpillars climbing the trunk of a tree. Once the army of caterpillars reaches the tree’s leaves the feeding frenzy begins. Other species overwinter as pupae in a chrysalis or cocoon. They begin their annual ritual by emerging as a moth or butterfly in the spring, feeding on nectar while seeking a mate, mating (they enjoy a sexual kind of reproduction), then laying eggs directly onto the source of food: the leaves or fruit of the host plant. [Intro]

A Serious Pest

Caterpillars, with their cutting and chewing mouthparts, or mandibles, as was written before, can cause an exceptional amount of damage if not treated early-on or prevented. The key to coping with caterpillars does not necessarily lie in the thoroughness of your scouting but more in the knowledge of your foe and methodology and timing of your effort. Your area university’s cooperative extension office — since caterpillars are usually regional in distribution — will probably be able to provide information as to what species are known to be problematic in your area and at what time of year they are doing what they do. The extension agent may also be able to prescribe curative action, but may not be well-versed in the Green Methods, and thus may not be able to offer fully all the nontoxic ways to get the job done — and there are many.

Moths and butterflies, as I’ve indicated, develop through a complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa (chrysalis) and adult, which is usually done at a specific time of year based on species. (Unlike aphids which develop constantly throughout the season by way of an incomplete metamorphosis, molting through multiple immature nymphal stage before reaching, uninterrupted by pupation, their adulthood.) In light of this, scouting will be done differently at various times during the season depending on what species is being scouted. Moreover, if you see a caterpillar with “eggs” on its back, they’re not eggs as that’s not how these things work. More than likely the “eggs” you’re seeing are actually the pupae of parasitic wasps in cocoons of their own. [Intro]

Some Advice

Caterpillars can be fast-feeding and merciless pests to have in your crop. The damage they can cause can be severe to the point of total crop loss through complete defoliation. Most medium-sized to large trees can handle two to three consecutive years of defoliation, but most of the crops produced by growers do not fall into this category. To most growers a large infestation can spell doom. Caterpillars are not usually very difficult to detect, but speed becomes a major issue as the irreversible damage they cause can form rapidly. During the appropriate times of year when known caterpillar species may be present, a daily performance of your scouting ritual may be prudent. [Intro]

For The Scout

Assuming I’m writing about a species which overwinters as an egg, the scout should begin by looking for eggs in the immediate area. Following this he or she will look for the destructive larvae. The caterpillars will likely be apparent by either their presence (assuming they are not nocturnal), feeding damage or feces. The feces can be very large and detectable in vast quantities, especially if dealing with one of the bigger moth or butterfly species. Tomato hornworms are a good example of this: as larvae they can grow to three to four inches in length and their poop can be as large as quarter-inch chunks. [Intro]

Some Solutions

The good news is caterpillars, regardless of size, color and area of activity — all of which is quite varied-are easily identifiable for what they are and can be simple to control if multiple and aggressive steps are taken quickly. Knowing the specific traits of the caterpillar species you expect to deal with is fundamental to your success-but it is not difficult. There are many tools available to you; all you have to do is to use them at the correct time and in the right way.

Looking for controls? Trichogramma spp. can help. So can Podisus maculiventris. You might also want to check out Bacillus thuringiensis and some of the other biorational productsTanglefoot tree banding barriercan also be very helpful. [Intro]




Ticks are bloodsucking, external parasites that are often encountered by people during activities in the Australian bush. There are many species known to attack humans and so samples should be referred to our expert laboratory for proper identification. Over the last twelve years, the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR has been at the forefront of research into ticks and tick-borne disease, and has been the leading health authority for the provision of information on the ecology and control of this important public health pest…More


Natural History

Mosquitoes are blood sucking insects that are responsible for the transmission of many diseases throughout the human and animal populations of the world. Within Australia there are more than 300 different species of mosquito but only a small number are of major concern. Several important human diseases are transmitted throughout Australia by these insects including Dengue fever, Australian encephalitis, Ross River virus disease and Barmah Forerst virus disease; malaria has been transmitted locally in Australia only rarely in recent decades. In addition to being disease vectors, mosquitoes can cause major disruptions, through their persistent biting, to occupational, recreational and social activities.

Mosquitoes belong to the family of flies called Culicidae and are small fragile insects that have six delicate legs and two wings covered in scales. The head of a mosquito is equipped with a projecting proboscis which conceals and protects the long piercing and sucking mouthparts. These biting insects have a complex life cycle; the immature stage is totally aquatic and the adult is terrestrial. The adult female returns to a water habitat for a brief period to lay each batch of eggs. Mosquito species vary in their breeding habits, biting behaviour, host preferences and flight range. Most mosquitoes disperse less than two kilometres; some move only a few metres away from their original breeding place, others can fly some 5 or 10 kilometres, and a few species will disperse up to 50 kilometres downwind from the larval habitats.

On average, a female mosquito will live 2-3 weeks, but the male’s lifespan is shorter. Within their lifetime both adult male and female will feed on nectar and plant fluids, but it is only the female that will seek a blood meal. The majority of species require this blood meal as a protein source for egg development. Female mosquitoes are attracted to a potential host through a combination of different stimuli that emanate from the host. The stimuli can include carbon dioxide, body odours, air movement or heat. Upon locating a suitable host, the female will probe the skin for a blood capillary then inject a small amount of saliva containing chemicals which prevent the host’s blood from clotting. This is often the pathway for potential pathogens such as viruses to enter a host. After engorging on the host’s blood the female will find a resting place to digest her meal and develop eggs before flyingoff to deposit them in a suitable aquatic habitat.

On hatching, the young larvae (wrigglers) feed continuously and grow through four different instars or moults. Larval development is dependent on the availability of food and prevailing conditions, particularly temperature, but generally takes at least one to two weeks. The final larval instar develops into an active comma-shaped pupa (tumbler) from which the adult mosquito emerges about 2 days later to feed, mate and develop eggs for the next generation.

Treatment and Control

There are many methods of control that can be implemented to reduce the number of mosquitoes. Local councils may use larvicides (pesticides that kill the larvae) which prevent mosquitoes from maturing to adults. In areas where there is a disease outbreak fogging may be considered as an option in order to kill the infected adult mosquito population. Other methods could include the use of parasites, predators or pathogens of mosquitoes to assist in reducing the population, but there is no biological control agent other than fish currently available for use against mosquitoes.

Simple measures can be taken by individuals to limit their contact with mosquitoes, Areas that are known to be infested with large numbers of mosquitoes shold be avoided. Activities that are scheduled for outdoors, especially around dusk should be limited, as the biting activity of many mosquitoes will peak during this period. Clothing that has long sleeves and long pants should be worn when visiting areas that are infested with mosquitoes. A chemical repellent that contains approx 20% DEET (diethyl toluamide) should be used on exposed areas of skin, but not repeatedly on young children. Windows and doors should be screened; water tanks also, using a small gauge mesh to exclude mosquitoes from these potential breeding sites. Empty all containers throughout the garden that hold water such as pot plant saucers, tyres, roof guttering and tins to prevent breeding. Bed nets are an effective barrier against biting insects at home or camping, and can now treated safely with an insecticide. Insecticidal sprays, and coils and electric mats, for use around the house can help in keeping mosquitoes at bay.

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House Fly

House fly biology, identification, image, control tips and products for eliminating house flies.

House Fly Biology and Identification

The common House fly is medium sized (1/6 to 1/4 inch long,) generally gray in colour with  the female usually large than the male.   The thorax bears four narrow black stripes.  The female fly has a much wider space between the eyes than the male.  House flies are often confused with Face flies.

The house fly passes through four stages in its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult.  The female of the species can be seen depositing their eggs on suitable breeding materials.  Often, the females can be seen in clusters of up to 50 individuals.  The female house fly lays individual eggs that pile up in masses of 75 to 150 eggs; in her lifetime, a single female house fly may lay up to 900 eggs.  The female fly begins laying her eggs anywhere from 4 to 12 days from emerging from her pupae.  She may lay 5 or 6 batches at intervals of several days between each.

In warm weather, the leg-less white pupae (or maggots) emerge from their eggs in 8 to 20 hours.  This larvae goes through three instars (or stages of development) in 1 week or less during warmer seasons, up to 8 weeks during cooler times.  The house fly maggot and eggs depend on damp organic material in which to develop and feed.  When it has completed its last instar, the fly maggot will move to a cool dry area in which to pupate.  These larvae have confused many people by showing up far away from any possible breeding site.  They have been known to travel over 100 feet to locate a suitable place to pupate.  The pupa transforms into an adult in as little as 3 days or as long as 5 weeks.  This pupation period varies with temperature and humidity.

Inspecting for House Flies

Your inspection should begin outside the home or building; although house flies are known to breed in indoor dirty trash cans, they are usually found feeding and breeding in fresh manure, rotting fruits and vegetables, damp garbage and damp, decaying organic materials that are located outside of the structure.

After locating all possible breeding sites, look for areas where house flies enter a structure.  Cracks around windows, doors and vents are the usual culprits.

Eliminating House Flies

House fly elimination is accomplished through good integrated pest management (IPM) procedures.  The following steps will rid your home of house flies:


Sanitation for the House Fly

Sanitation procedures not only include the obvious (clean trash receptacles, etc.) but also doing the little things that can help reduce the number of house flies in and around a structure.  Indoors, make sure that all trash cans are thoroughly cleaned before trash bags are used.  All trash bags need to be secured before disposing in an outdoor container.

All outdoor receptacles (dumpsters, trash cans) need to be cleaned regularly; they also need to have properly operating covers — what good is a trash can without a lid?  If possible, move dumpsters far away from structures.   This will help cut down the number of house flies inside homes and businesses.   Keep the areas around dumpsters as clean and dry as possible; house fly eggs and pupae need damp material to develop and survive.


House flies enter homes by several means: doors which do not close fast enough or that do not have a good fit; windows without screens or with screens in ill repair.  Flies also enter buildings through tiny cracks around windows and doors; seal or caulk these areas.


Space sprays and pheromone traps can be helpful tools in eliminating indoor Blowflies and House Flies, but the elimination of their breeding sources is the only guaranteed way to eliminate them.  Make certain that all possible sanitation measures have been implemented before relying on chemical sprays to eliminate flies.  Space sprays can be used to knock down existing house fly infestations, but this is only a temporary fix.  If breeding sites have not been eliminated or altered, house flies will continue to be a problem.

Surface sprays can be used around windows and doors and should also be used on dumpsters.  Any area where flies “rest” or enter an building can be treated with a good surface spray.  However, do not spray areas that humans constantly come into contact with or on surfaces where food is prepared or served.  The best product for surface spraying is Cynoff WP.


Use baits inside dumpsters and the area around such trash containers, if there are no non-target animals (dogs or children) in the immediate area.  Are there homeless people going through the trash at night?  If so, do not bait inside the container, but bait the area surrounding the receptacle. Baits should be re-applied after every cleaning or rainfall.  Maxforce Fly Bait is the best performing bait for flies; formulated for restaurants and other commercial applications.

Summary of House Fly Elimination

  1. Locate and eliminate all possible breeding sites.
  2. Move all trash receptacles as far from buildings as possible
  3. Dispose of all moist garbage, rotting vegetation and animal feces in bags; dispose of bags in proper receptacle.
  4. Keep all dumpsters and garbage containers clean and dry; all dumpsters need tight fitting lids and should be emptied in a timely manner.
  5. Seal all possible entry points to exclude flying pests from homes and businesses.
  6. Spray surfaces around windows and doors where flies are seen resting or trying to enter structures.  Wettable powders such as Cynoff WP are the best for surface spraying.  If visible residue is a problem, useTalstar One to kill flies.
  7. Use surface spray on  lids and sides of dumpsters and other outdoor garbage containers.
  8. If necessary, use space sprays and pheromone traps indoors to reduce populations of adult house flies.
  9. Fly baits should be placed on or in dumpsters on a regular basis, during fly season.

Professional Pest Control Products
6920 Pine Forest Road
Pensacola, Florida   32526

Fruit Flies

Flies |  Fly Breeding | Sites | Ultraviolet

Fruit Fly Identification

Fruit flies are small flies measuring about 1/8 inch in length, including their wings.  Click here to see image of Fruit Fly.  The key identifying characteristic of the fruit fly is its eyes, which are red in color.  The head and thorax are tan in color with the abdomen somewhat darker.   This fly is easily mistaken for the Phorid fly which has very similar markings but lacks red eye color.  The Phorid flyalso has a “humped back” appearance.   Without the aid of a microscope or a good field magnifying glass, fruit flies would merely fall into the category of Small Flies, with elimination methods being similar for all flies in this category.

Fruit Fly Elimination

Fly Elimination Products

The key to controlling fruit fly infestations is to locate and eliminate their breeding sources.  Although there are several sprays and traps used to kill flies in a home, restaurant or other structure, the infestation cannot be eliminated without eliminating their source.  A space spray (Pyrethrin spray) can be used as a quick kill, reducing populations of flying insects.  Pyrethrin spray is also a crack and crevice tool that is used by pest control operators to spray the tiny areas where fruit flies and other insect pests breed.  To monitor the area, use a Gold Stick trap.  These traps use a fly sex lure to attract flies to their doom.  Every fruit fly caught is one less breeding adult!

Professional fly traps use pheromones in combination with powerful ultraviolet bulbs in lighted fly traps.  There are several sizes with varying power to choose from.  Different designs offer options for the proper trap to be used in public areas, commercial kitchens, hospitals, offices and homes.  The use of ultraviolet bulbs increases the numbers of flying insects captured while drastically reducing the need for use of sprays and other pesticides.

Use the powerful Fly Trap Professional in commercial kitchens or other areas that are not usually accessed by the public or your customers.  In high profile areas, the Cento Fly Traps and Luralite Fly Traps are much more discreet.

If you locate a drain that is a breeding ground for fruit flies, use Drain Gel (Fly Gel) to destroy the film in which the fly eggs and larvae are developing.  A surface spray is not recommended in this situation, unless there are great numbers of flies resting on the surface of trash cans, dumpsters or exterior walls.  Fruit Fly Traps are also an excellent tool for capturing fruit flies.  Attach the trap to the inside lid of garbage cans, dumpsters or compost bins to capture adult flies before they breed.   Dispose of traps when full of flies or after 3 months.  Click here to see fly elimination products.  Inspecting the area for possible breeding sources is the key for fruit fly elimination.

Inspecting for Fruit Flies

When searching for fruit fly breeding sources, remember that the larva can only survive in decaying organic matter that is moist.  The first obvious place to check is where any fruits or vegetables or stored outside of refrigerators or coolers.   Other areas to inspect would be recycling bins, seldom used (or cleaned) garbage cans, underneath and behind large appliances.  Do not overlook drains where small flies are often found breeding in the super thin layer or film of debris that naturally accumulates in pipes, traps and drains.

In commercial and residential structures, tiny amounts of organic debris are often found where the legs or feet of appliances, tables or cabinets touch the floor.   These tiny spaces can harbor thousands of fly larvae.  All small cracks and crevices at floor level need to be inspected and thoroughly cleaned.

Once one source has been located, continue with your inspection.  Fruit flies easily follow air currents and usually have several breeding places in any structure.  Do not assume that all of your breeding sources are indoors; fruit flies will wander in from nearby dumpsters, outdoor garbage cans or even damp compost piles where fruits and vegetables are disposed.

Fruit Fly Biology

The fruit flies comprise several different species belonging to the genus Drosophila.   The most common species encountered in homes and other structures is D.melanogaster.   Fruit flies are also known as pomace flies or vinegar flies.  These pests can be found throughout the world, in homes, food processing plants, warehouses, grocery stores, wineries, restaurants and other structures.

Life History of the Fruit Fly

Fruit flies develop by complete metamorphosis.  The eggs (which are difficult to see with the naked eye) are deposited near the surface of fermenting fruit or organic matter.  A pair of filaments that are attached to the eggs protrude above the surface of the liquid.  The female fruit fly will lay about 500 eggs.  The larvae emerge about 30 hours after the eggs have been laid and feed near the surface of the fermenting material.  The larvae feed for five to six days then crawl to drier areas of the food source or even out of the food source to pupate.  The larva transforms into the pupa in the last larval skin, or puparium, which bears a conspicuous pair of filaments on the anterior end.   The adult fruit fly emerges several days later.  The newly emerged fruit flies are attracted to light and become sexually active in about two days.   The adults mate more than once.  Under ideal conditions, the life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in as little as eight days.  The sudden appearance of large populations is not uncommon inside buildings.

The complete dependence of all stages of the fruit fly on moist, decaying (or fermenting) organic materials is a key point to remember in inspection and elimination of fruit fly infestations.

The fruit fly breeds in and feeds on ripened fruits and vegetables, as well as moist, decaying organic matter.  Fruit fly larvae living in fruit which is eaten can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea.  In vinegar-producing facilities, the fruit fly is responsible for infecting tanks of vinegar with a tiny nematode called the vinegar worm.

Professional Pest Control Products
6920 Pine Forest Road
Pensacola, FL   32526

Bird Lice

Bird Mite Infestation…

Who…people with a bird’s nest near the home, apartment dwellers with nesting pigeons, people with pets or other animals which are infested, farmers who raise chickens, people who obtain used furniture, carpet, clothing, etc, that has been infested. This can also include guests of hotels, office workers et al., when the buildings are inhabited by nesting birds.

What…parasitic infestation from bird mites too small to be easily seen without magnification. Symptoms include pinprick bites, often intense itching with or without lesions, small reddened bumps, and a crawling sensation anywhere on the body; with increased activity at night. Some people label these the “creepy crawlies” or “nose ticklers”. The intense itching and irritation on the skin is due to the mite’s saliva. When a large area is covered with bites it will resemble a rash in appearance, and it is often mistaken for scabies.

Possible Bird Mite Infestation?

  • Unexplained bites or lesions that heal slowly
  • Frequently intense itching on limbs or trunk
  • Vague sensation of crawling on the skin
  • Increase of symptoms in certain areas of the home
  • Increase of symptoms at night and in humid weather

Where…bird mites more commonly infest bedrooms and bathrooms, but will quickly infest the whole house. Mites will infest carpeting, bedding, upholstered furniture, clothing, etc. They hide in cracks, crevices and darkened areas in the home when not active. They tend to congregate where humans routinely are; such as near the computer, in automobiles, etc.

When…bird mites are most active from dusk till dawn, but can be active at other times, especially when disturbed. Bird mites are very disruptive to our normal sleep pattern, causing many nights of lost sleep. They tend to be more active on damp, humid, overcast days and nights. Mites are less active during daylight hours, and they are less active on hot, dry, sunny days. Increased activity every seven days or so, when the new mites will mature. Mite activity also tends to increase around a full moon. Bird mite populations tend to peak in the late spring and summer, corresponding to an increase in the bird population and an increase in temperature and humidity levels.

Why…bird mites are parasites they feed on living organisms; the female mite needs blood to reproduce. They are attracted to mammals by receptors for moisture, heat and CO2. They are aggressive and they often bite humans when their original food source has gone; as when the young birds leave the nest. They can quickly multiply into thousands, leaving the afflicted person with the feeling of being overwhelmed. Once a home is heavily infested, they are very difficult to fully eradicate.

bird mite mark

Close-up image of a bird mite bite mark on a human leg, with the typical bulls eye characteristics. The outer band is typically about .25 inch across and the raised, reddened center is about .1 inch. Although similar in size to a mosquito bite, a mite bite typically takes much longer to heal.