Know Your Bug
Also known as “cat fleas,” adult fleas are dark brown, black or reddish (after eating). They are about 1/8-inch in length, have flat bodies, and are found on furry animals. They can infest their environments as well. Fleas are typically found on cats and dogs but can also be brought home by a human or furniture that was exposed, as fleas can jump up to 6 feet high. Fleas are not just pests; they are known to carry diseases, including rodent typhus and tapeworms in cats, dogs, and rodents. Tapeworms are released into a pet’s system when it ingests a host flea (during grooming for example).
The most common species in California is the paper wasp, usually golden brown or darker, with large yellow or red patches. They are about 1-inch long, slender, have long legs and a waist that curves in. You will find wasps under awnings, eaves, in attics, porches, tree branches, and vines. They are also commonly found in orchards and vineyards. Their nests look like opened umbrellas with visible cells and can carry between 15 to 200 offspring.
Worker ants are 1/16-inch long and queens are 2-4 times larger. These ants are brown with 12-segment antennas. They have a humped thorax, a one-segment waste and no stinger, but they do bite. Argentine ants are found wherever fruit juices, candy and plant secretions are available. These ants build nests in the ground as deep as 24 feet, near moisture, such as plumbing, sinks and plants. The worker ants form trails to seek food. Argentine ant colonies are capable of unifying with other colonies to make one super colony rather than fighting for territory. This unification makes eradication more challenging.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants are black and about 1/16-inches long, known for their pungent smell when smashed. They feed on other insects, honeydew, plants and seeds. Odorous house ant colonies can combine into several colonies totaling up to 10,000 ants with various queens. Odorous ants build nests in exposed soil, under lumber, under bricks and honeybee hives. Their nests can also be found indoors near moisture sources such as heaters and plumbing.
German Cockroach (Indoor)
This is the most common roach found inside homes, restaurants and commercial properties. Adult German roaches range from ½-inches to ⅝-inches in length, they are oval-shaped, tan and brown with two darker brown lines on the top of the head. These creepy crawlers enjoy warm and humid places, such as kitchens and restrooms. German roaches commonly infest restaurants, kitchens and other living and sleeping spaces. They are a health hazard for humans, as they carry germs that cause diseases and asthma-triggering allergies.
Oriental Cockroach (Outdoor)
This roach known as the “water bug” lives in the outdoors, but occasionally creeps inside. Adult Oriental roaches are oval-shaped, 1-inch to 1 ¼-inches long; they tend to be shiny black but can be dark reddish or brown. This species is found in communities usually under leaves, garbage, stones and they can survive up to 13 weeks in freezing weather. Their food of choice is garbage, sewage and starchy foods. Although they are outside roaches, they sometimes enter homes through pipes, vents, drains and other openings.
Field crickets can be black, brown or yellow. They range from ½-inch to 1 1/8-inch in size and are found in moist outdoor environments, including farming areas, plant beds with weeds, woodpiles and debris piles. These invasive crickets can cause severe crop and vegetation destruction. You will know you have them by the chirping sound male crickets make day or night to attract females. There are many known species of field crickets, at least 10 of them in California alone. Field crickets are typically black, but some vary to brownish yellow or straw-colored.