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Other Pests

Springtails
Silverfish/Firebrat
Carpet Beetle
Centipede
Granary Weevil
Grasshopper
Millipede
Rice Weevil
Sowbug
Earwig


Springtails

Springtails are small, 0.04 to 0.2 inch long, wingless insects. Color varies, depending on species, and ranging from black to gray to white, yellow, lavender, red, green or gold. Some are patterned or mottled and some are iridescent or metallic due to the scales which cover the body. In addition to antennae and three pairs of true legs, springtails jump with an unusual forked structure (furcula) on the end of their abdomen (fourth abdominal segment). This structure functions like a catapult and is normally underneath the body and held in place with a clasp-like structure (tenaculum). Some springtails can jump 3 to 4 inches.

The garden springtail, Bourletiella hortensis (Fitch) (Sminthuriidae), is a black and yellow species that commonly occur in large numbers injuring flowers and vegetables. When springtails occur in large numbers and search for new suitable habitats, they can enter homes and invade kitchens and bathrooms. Occasionally, large numbers of springtails occur together on surfaces of water such as in puddles, ponds and swimming pools, especially the “water springtail”, Podura aquatica (Linnaeus) (Collembola: Poduridae) which is a gray species.

Springtails are occasionally misidentified as fleas because they can occur in the home and jump. However, springtails are round and soft bodied instead of dark brown and flattened. Springtails have normal hind legs, whereas fleas have hind legs modified for jumping.
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Silverfish/Firebrat

Description: Silverfish are always wingless and are silvery to brown in color because their bodies are covered with fine scales. They are generally soft bodied. Adults are up to 3/4 inch long, flattened from top to bottom, elongated and oval in shape, have three long tail projections and two long antennae.

The firebrat, Thermobia domestica (Packard), is quite similar in habits but is generally darker in color. The firebrat prefers temperatures over 90 degrees F but has a similar high humidity requirement. It is common near heating pipes, fire places, ovens and other heat sources.

Life Cycle: Females lay eggs continuously after reaching the adult stage and may lay over 100 eggs during her life. Eggs are deposited singly or in small groups in cracks and crevices and hatch in 3 to weeks. Silverfish develop from egg to young to adult within 4 to 6 weeks and continue to molt throughout their life. Immature stages appear similar to adults except they are about 1/20 of an inch long when they first hatch and whitish in color, taking on the adults’ silver coloring as they grow. They are long-lived, surviving from two to eight years. Simple metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult).

Habitat, Food Source(s): Silverfish are chewing insects and general feeders but prefer carbohydrates and protein, including flour, dried meat, rolled oats, paper and even glue. They and can survive long periods, sometimes over a year, without food but are sensitive to moisture and require a high humidity (75% to 90%) to survive. They also have a temperature preference between 70 and 80 degrees F. They are fast running and mostly active at night and generally prefer lower levels in homes, but may be found in attics.

Pest Status, Damage: Primarily a nuisance pest inside the home or buildings; can contaminate food, damage paper goods and stain clothing; medically harmless. Many of their habits are similar to cockroaches and they appear to be more common as household pests in drier parts of the state. Occasionally damage book bindings, curtains, wallpaper.
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Carpet Beetle

Carpet beetles belong to the family of beetles known as dermestids. These insects are pests in warehouses, homes, museums, and other locations where suitable food exists. In California, three species of carpet beetles cause serious damage to fabrics, carpets, furs, stored foods, and preserved specimens.

IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE
All three carpet beetle species have a similar life history. Adults lay eggs on the larval food source, such as furs and woolen fabric or carpets. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and the larvae feed for varying periods, depending upon species and environmental conditions. They prefer dark, secluded places. When ready to pupate, the larvae may burrow further into the food or wander and burrow elsewhere. They may also pupate within the last larval skin if no other shelter is available. Larvae do not make webs as clothes moths do, but their shed skins and fecal pellets, which are about the size of a grain of salt, make it obvious where they have been feeding.

Carpet beetle adults do not feed on fabrics but seek out pollen and nectar. They are attracted to sunlight and are commonly found feeding on the flowers of crape myrtle, spiraea, buckwheat, and other plants that produce abundant pollen. Be careful not to bring these pests into the home on cut flowers—with their rounded bodies and short antennae, carpet beetles somewhat resemble lady beetles in shape.

Varied Carpet Beetle

The varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci, is common in California. The adult is about 1/10 inch long and black with an irregular pattern of white, brown, and dark yellow scales on its elytra (wing covers). In older adults the scales that form this pattern wear off so the beetles appear solid brown or black. Outdoors, female beetles search out spider webs and nests of bees, wasps, and birds in which to lay their eggs. The nests contain dead insects, beeswax, pollen, feathers, or other debris that can serve as larval food. Indoors, beetles deposit eggs on or near wool carpets and rugs, woolen goods, animal skins, furs, stuffed animals, leather book bindings, feathers, animal horns, whalebone, hair, silk, dried plant products, and other materials that can serve as larval food.

Mature larvae are about the same length as adults and are covered with dense tufts of hair that they extend upright to form a round plume if disturbed. They have alternating light and dark brown transverse stripes and are distinguishable from other carpet beetle larvae because they are broader in the rear and narrower in front. Adults usually appear in spring or early summer; indoors, they are often seen near windows.
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Centipede

House centipedes (Scutigera) are common arthropods with long, flattened, segmented bodies with one pair of legs per segment. The house centipede is up to 1 1/2 inches long and has 15 pairs of very long, almost thread-like, slender legs. Each leg is encircled by dark and white bands. The body is brown to grayish-yellow and has three dark stripes on top.

Though house centipedes are found both indoors and outdoors it is the occasional one on the bathroom or bedroom wall, or the one accidentally trapped in the bathtub, sink, or lavatory that causes the most concern. However, these locations are not where they normally originate. Centipedes prefer to live in damp portions of basements, closets, bathrooms, unexcavated areas under the house and beneath the bark of firewood stored indoors. They do not come up through the drain pipes.

House centipedes feed on small insects, insect larvae, and on spiders. Thus they are beneficial, though most homeowners take a different point-of-view and consider them a nuisance. Technically, the house centipede could bite, but it is considered harmless to people.

House centipede control consists of drying up and cleaning, as much as possible, the areas that serve as habitat and food source for centipedes. Residual insecticides can be applied to usual hiding places such as crawl spaces, dark corners in basements, baseboard cracks and crevices, openings in concrete slabs, under shelves, around stored boxes, and so forth.
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Granary Weevil

Appearance:
Granary weevils are dark brown in color and are somewhat cylindrical in shape. Their head is prolonged with a distinct thin snout extending downward from the head. The granary weevil has a well marked thorax.

Size:
Approximately 1/8-inch long.

Behavior:
Granary weevils are internal feeders and they cannot fly. When disturbed, Granary weevils play dead by drawing their legs close to their body. They then lie still for several minutes before resuming movement.

The female uses her strong mandibles to chew a small hole in a grain kernel, where she deposits a single egg in the hole and seals it with a gelatinous fluid. In warm weather, the granary weevil can develop from egg to adult in about five weeks. Cold weather prolongs development.

Habitat:
Granary weevils are similar to Rice weevils and they are both often referred to as the “Snout weevils.” They penetrate and feed on the internal portions of whole grains during the larval stage. Granary weevils are usually found in grain storage facilities, food processing plants, and whole foods markets. They will also infest old pasta, table beans, acorns, chestnuts, birdseed, sunflower seeds, and ornamental corn.
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Grasshopper

Grasshopper infestations vary in their intensity from year to year. Generally speaking seasons that have large populations will occur for two to four years simultaneously. After this cycle a period of low infestation will happen for three to four years. The cycles often repeat in this manner. Adults live for approximately 60 to 90 days.

Grasshoppers usually begin to hatch in mid spring. The warmer and drier the spring the earlier hatching will occur and the better the nymphs will thrive . Often times a late spring freeze will disrupt the cycle, killing the young hoppers. An early spring followed by cloudy, damp weather encourages diseases that sicken and kill them. Long, hot summers provide a bountiful food supply for them. This encourages early maturing of grasshoppers and an extended long egg-laying period. Cool summer and early fall conditions slow down grasshopper maturity resulting a reduced time period for laying eggs.

There are three stages of development for grasshoppers: egg, nymph (young adult) and adult hopper. The nymph stage goes through five instars (instar means development stages.) As each instar is completed they molt and become larger. It is in the first to the third week of reaching the adult stage that female hoppers will begin to lay eggs. They lay them in the soil covering them with a foamy like liquid which forms a hard, protective shell enabling them to withstand severe cold.

It is the during the nymph stage of hoppers that you want to take control action. Even in periods of low populations grasshoppers can cause considerable damage in home gardens. The main damage that hoppers inflict on plants are the consumption of foliage. During periods of overpopulation they can and will go after shrubs and tree, just about anything. Following are some methods to help you control grasshopper outbreaks.
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Millipede

Description

Millipedes, or “thousand-leggers,” are brownish, elongated, cylindrical to slightly flattened creatures, with two (most common) or four pairs of tiny legs per body segment. Millipedes don’t really have a thousand legs; even the largest ones have somewhat less than a hundred. When they walk, their legs move in an undulating wavelike manner. Adult millipedes vary from 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches in length. When prodded or at rest, most millipedes curl up. The three species found in California are the common millipede, the bulb millipede, and the greenhouse millipede.

Millipedes may be confused with wireworms because of their similar shapes. Wireworms, however, are click beetle larvae, have only three pairs of legs, and stay underneath the soil surface.

Habitat and Importance

Millipedes normally live in and feed on rotting leaves and wood and other kinds of moist decaying plant matter. Generally, their role is a beneficial one in helping to break down dead plant matter. However, when they become numerous, they may damage sprouting seeds, seedlings, or strawberries and other ripening fruits in contact with the ground.

Sometimes individual millipedes wander from their moist living places into homes, but they usually die quickly because of the dry conditions and lack of food. Occasionally, large numbers of millipedes migrate, often uphill, as their food supply dwindles or their living places become either too wet or too dry. They may fall into swimming pools and drown.

When disturbed they do not bite, but some species exude a defensive liquid that can irritate skin or burn the eyes.

Life Cycle

Adult millipedes overwinter in the soil. Eggs are laid in clutches beneath the soil surface. The young grow gradually in size, adding segments and legs as they mature. They mature in 2 to 5 years and continue to live for several years thereafter.
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Rice Weevil

Appearance
The rice weevil is small, 1/10 inch (2 to 3 mm) and stout in appearance. It is very similar in appearance to the granary weevil. However, the rice weevil is reddish-brown to black in color with four light yellow or reddish spots on the corners of the elytra (the hard protective forewings). The snout is long (1 mm), almost 1/3 of the total length. The head with snout is as long as the prothorax or the elytra. The prothorax (the body region behind the head) is strongly pitted and the elytra have rows of pits within longitudinal grooves. The larva is legless and stays inside the hollowed grain kernel. It is fat with a cream colored body and dark head capsule.

Habits
The rice weevil is one of the most serious stored grain pests worldwide. This pest of whole grain originated in India and has been spread worldwide by commerce. It now has a cosmopolitan distribution. It is a serious pest in the southern United States. The rice weevil is replaced by the granary weevil north of North Carolina and Tennessee. Both the adults and larvae feed on whole grains. They attack wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, sorghum, buckwheat, dried beans, cashew nuts, wild bird seed, and cereal products, especially macaroni. The adult rice weevil can fly and is attracted to lights. When disturbed, adults pull in their legs, fall to the ground, and feign death. The larval rice weevil must complete its development inside a seed kernel or a man-made equivalent, like macaroni products. Larval rice weevils have been known to develop in hard caked flour. The adult female eats a cavity into a seed and then deposits a single egg in the cavity, sealing in the egg with secretions from her ovipositor. The larva develops within the seed, hollowing it out while feeding. The larva then pupates within the hollow husk of the grain kernel.

Biology
The adult female rice weevil lays an average of 4 eggs per day and may live for four to five months. The full life cycle may take only 26 to 32 days during hot summer months, but requires a much longer period during cooler weather. The eggs hatch in about 3 days. The larvae feed inside the grain kernel for an average of 18 days. The pupa is naked and the pupal stage lasts an average of 6 days. The new adult will remain in the seed for 3 to 4 days while it hardens and matures.
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Sowbug

Description: Adults grow to about 3/8 inch long, have a number of rounded body segments and seven pairs of legs. Sowbugs possess a pair of tail-like structures on the back end of the body. Pillbugs do not have these structures and are capable of rolling into a tight ball when disturbed, a behavior that resulted in their common name, “roly-polies.”

Isopoda (sowbugs and pillbugs) are terrestrial crustaceans, and are more closely related to lobsters, shrimp and crayfish. They even have gills. One saltwater isopod, Ligia exotica, occurs along the Texas seashore among jetty rocks and pilings. They are active in the evening and run rapidly, superficially resembling cockroaches in form and behavior. They are called “sea roaches” and occasionally enter structures near the waterline. Another group of crustaceans, Order Amphipoda, occurs in salt and fresh water habitats. One freshwater amphipod species, Hyalella azteca, builds up in large numbers in temporary ponds and puddles. When their aquatic habitats dry up they leave in search of other bodies of water and occasionally invade homes and structures, hopping about. Members of this species are commonly called “scud.” They are about 1/4 inch long, grayish to pinkish and shrimp-like in form. Crayfish (also called crawdads), shrimp, crabs and lobsters belong to the Order Decopoda. They have a shield (carapace) that covers the thorax and have five pairs of legs, the first of which have a large claw. Texas crayfish are poorly known, with five species occurring in Brazos County.

Life Cycle: Females lay eggs that they carry in a pouch underneath the body. Eggs hatch into young sowbugs and pillbugs that resemble adults but are smaller. They remain in the pouch up to 2 months after hatching. Development to adults occurs in about a year and they breed mainly in the spring. They may live up to 3 years. Up to three broods may be produced annually.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Mouthparts are for chewing and rasping. Sowbugs and pillbugs spend bright daylight hours in damp dark habitats such as underneath stones, logs, leaf litter and other debris. At night they venture out and feed on decomposing organic material, including mulch and grass clippings. They will feed on the tender foliage, stems and roots of young garden vegetable transplants, seedlings and bedding plants. They also rasp the outer skin of cucumbers laying on the ground in gardens, causing fruit to be deformed and blemished.
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Earwig

The name earwig comes from a European superstition that these insects entered the ears of a sleeping person and bored into the brain. This belief is totally unfounded. Earwigs do often cause alarm to homeowners when discovered indoors, despite the fact that they are harmless to humans. They have a frightful appearance, move rapidly around baseboards at the ground level and may emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands. Active at night and hiding during the daytime, earwigs normally live outdoors and do not establish themselves indoors. They are harmless to humans and animals, although if handled carelessly, the earwig can give a slight pinch with the forceps. Earwigs can be responsible for serious feeding damage on flowers, vegetables, fruits and other plants, giving the leaves a ragged appearance with numerous, small, irregular holes.

Description:

Earwigs are elongate, flattened insects, ranging from light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their forcep-like appendages (pincers) on the end of the abdomen. The forceps (cerci) are unequal in length in the males. Earwig female forceps are straight-sided, whereas male forceps are strongly curved (caliper-like) and larger. They have chewing mouthparts and long, slender antennae. Some species are wingless but others have a pair of leathery forewings covering a few segments of the abdomen and the membranous hind wings, which have the tips protruding. There are many species of earwigs: the European earwig ranges from 13-20 mm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) in length, with banded legs and reddish head; the ringlegged earwig ranges from 13-18 mm (1/2 to 3/5 inch) in length and is black-yellowish underneath with legs having dark crossbands. Young earwigs (nymphs) are similar in appearance to adults. They are white to olive-green and lack wings.
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