Learn About the Bugs That Are Buggin’ You
Africanized “killer” bees are a type of honey bee that is a common nuisance for Texas homeowners. They were first introduced to the United States in 1990 when the killer bees escaped from a testing facility in Brazil. In North America, the first recorded sighting of Africanized killer bees was near the United States and Mexico border in the town of Hidalgo, Texas. From there, they have spread across the southern United States. If you’ve heard of a killer bee, it’s likely because of the news that seems to pop up every year about residents just within a few hours reach of Dallas / Fort Worth area being swarmed, with some attacks being fatal. Their presence is a double edged sword because although humans can suffer from being within reach of killer bees, their ability to pollinate and improve the environment is significant. While living or working in the Dallas area, it’s important that you know what Africanized killer bees are, how to prevent them, and what to do if you encounter them.
Ants are considered to be the most successful and most abundant groups of insects on earth. For this reason, ants are the most commonly reported pest in both the home and workplace. Not only are ants the most common type of pest encountered, but they are also one of the most persistent pests. Although ants are frequently seen indoors, the majority of ant activity occurs outdoors where they forage on small insects and other small organisms. In the Dallas / Fort Worth area, the most common ants that homeowners and businesses experience are odorous house ants, red imported fire ants, carpenter ants, Argentine ants, acrobat ants, pharaoh ants, and crazy ants.
The nine-banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo living in North America. Its unique, unmistakable, and loveable appearance have made it our official state small mammal. So what’s the problem with this Texan native? Some homeowners experience armadillo activity that results in severe lawn damage from their search for grubs and the process of creating dens. Although they’re easy to sneak up on as they slowly graze in your yard, they will bolt towards their den with lightening speed once you’ve been detected.
Bats are common flying mammals that live across Texas. They belong to an order of mammals called Chiroptera, which is Latin for “hand wing”. Although people associate bats with vampires, Halloween, and rabies, bats are truly misunderstood creatures. They spend most of their waking hours feeding on insects, like nature’s own form of pest control. Bats in the Dallas / Fort Worth area aren’t out for human blood or human interactions at all. They become active at dusk and sleep in hidden enclosed spaces during the day. Even if you don’t see bats, they are very prevalent throughout the Dallas / Fort Worth area.
Bed bugs are small, elusive and parasitic insects that feed on the blood of mammals, usually at night. They like wood and fabric, and hide in cracks, crevices, narrow spaces and voids near where you sleep or rest; mattresses, box springs, bed frames, night stands, pictures, dressers, desks, recliners, sofas and even books. They can live 10 months or more without food/blood and can be transported by luggage (especially foreign travel), guests, pets or wildlife, and used clothing, furniture or books.
Some enjoy bird watching. Some keep them as pets. Some have to deal with their roosting and pooping at their home or place of business. Wild birds pose significant health risks with their droppings and can carry mites that are dangerous to humans. In addition, birds can be very stubborn when it comes to leaving attics and chimneys once they’ve made their nest. Professional pest control is the only way to get rid of birds in a humane and effective way. The most common types of birds that interfere with the lives of Dallas / Fort Worth area residents are pigeons and starlings.
Cockroaches are pests that regularly infest residential homes and commercial structures. They are especially resilient which is why they are so challenging to get rid of once they infest. The most common types of cockroaches in Texas include Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, and American cockroaches. Unlike pests that primarily feed off of outdoors vegetation, cockroaches are drawn to things that are commonly found in homes such as store-bought food, toothpaste, and kitchen sponges. In restaurants, cockroaches feed off of fallen food scraps left in unsanitary conditions. This can very quickly escalate if the issue is left untreated, becoming the difference between staying open and closing for good.
Fleas are tiny pests that feed on our beloved pets, and sometimes humans. They’re somewhat difficult to spot because of their small size: only 1/8 of an inch. Fleas can jump up to 8 inches vertically, which makes them slightly visible. They are flat on the sides and have backward facing spines on their bodies. Residential infestations grow when a flea latches onto a host, usually a dog or cat, and lays eggs that fall off as the pet wanders around the home. Fleas have the capability to live in carpets, laying eggs between the fibers. As eggs hatch, the problem spreads. You may not know fleas are in your home until you find them on your pet.
Bald faced hornets are the only type of hornet found in Texas. They’re very common pests that you can find flying around your property and creating nests in bushes, trees, attics, sheds, as well as under eaves, decks, and soffits. Bald faced hornets are mostly black with white features on their heads. Stinging insects fly around so quickly that it can be hard to identify if you’re seeing a hornet, wasp, or yellow jacket without getting too close (which is not something you should do). If you see stinging insects flying around, the best way to narrow down the type of pest is by identifying the nest.
Mice are small rodents that have adapted to living in human made structures such as residential homes and commercial properties. Because they are nocturnal, mice usually aren’t seen wandering around your home. They come alive at night, searching for food and leaving tons of droppings behind. Mice tend to nibble on things, making frequent trips to food sources within 25 feet of their nests. After mice enter your home, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of since they often live in hidden areas within garages, attics, lofts, under dishwashers and stoves, and within wall voids. Rodent problems exist year-round for residents in the Dallas / Forth Worth area.
Mosquitoes are notorious blood-sucking pests that are most closely associated with itchy bumps from their bites. Female mosquitoes are the biters, not the males. In order to nourish eggs, female mosquitoes consume their bodyweight in blood each time they bite. Males actually survive off of the nectar from flowers, which makes them beneficial to the environment. Their disturbance isn’t a problem unique to Texans. Mosquitoes breed across the country, ruining picnics and bonfires for thousands of people every year. In Texas, mosquitoes can be a year-round problem for residents. While mosquito populations increase during the peak of summer heat, temperatures don’t get quite cold enough during the year to eliminate all mosquitoes.
The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. They’re about the size of a house cat, with a long pointed face, hairless ears, opposable thumbs, and a rat-like tail. They are solitary creatures that live alone with the exception of mating season. Homeowners in the Dallas / Forth Worth area find them especially troublesome because of the mess they make, smell they cause, and ability to live in attics, garages, and under decks. Opossums are widespread across Texas. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is no exception. Within both natural and man-made environments, opossums can thrive.
Paper wasps are reddish brown and occasionally yellow and black with two wings. Two legs hang down from its body which makes it easier to identify them when flying. Paper wasps make unique nests that have a honeycomb pattern, made of a mixture of scraped up wood and their saliva. Most nests are usually light gray, but they can vary because the color is dictated by the available wood in the area. Residents in the Dallas / Forth Worth area start seeing paper wasp activity in the spring and through the summer while the wasps build their nest and grow their colony. If the nest is disturbed, prepare yourself for a nasty swarm of paper wasps ready to sting multiple times.
Does it sound like someone is living in your attic? Those footsteps and scratching noises could indicate the presence of uninvited raccoon roommates. Raccoons are pudgy animals, weighing 7-20 lbs and standing 9-12 inches tall, measuring 2-3 feet long. Their coat is unmistakable, marked by the striped tail, masked face, and gray body. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department notes, “The name ‘raccoon’ came from an Algonquian Indian word arakun, which means ‘he scratches with his hands.’ During the 1700s, American colonists dropped the “a” in arakun, and the name became raccoon.” It’s a fitting description to this day because of how dexterous their hands are. Raccoons can scale trees, dig through trash cans in residential areas, and search the bottom of streams for fish and frogs to eat. When coming into contact with residential homes, raccoons find shelter in attics, under decks, and in crawl spaces where they can hide from predators.
Rats are large rodents that live in the Dallas / Forth Worth area and across the United States. These nocturnal pests are destructive and create unsanitary environments when they infest residential homes. Urine and feces are of serious concern because of the rodent’s tendency to get into food and share living space with humans. Their strong teeth can chew through wires, causing electrical outages and problems. Rat infestations are much more challenging when it comes to eliminating an active issue, which is why it’s imperative to address rat activity the moment it’s observed. Both residential homes and commercial structures can suffer from rat infestations and activity. In the Dallas / Forth Worth area, the most common are Norway rats and roof rats. They are widespread across the United States, causing damage and creating unsanitary conditions wherever they go.
Skunks are nocturnal animals that live across the United States as well as in North Texas, including the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You’ve probably never actually seen a live skunk, but you can sure tell when they’re around. The unmistakable odor from a skunk can emanate an average of 1 mile away. These stinky mammals are actually beneficial to reducing the amount of insects and small rodents that live on your property. Problems come into play when skunks create dens under your deck or shed. Digging and foraging for food around your yard can be unsightly, plus the chances for rabies are present.
Spiders are common insects that crawl in and around human made structures such as residential homes, office buildings, and warehouses. Even though they are very frequently found, most people avoid them at all costs. In reality, the majority of spiders are not dangerous. Their diet consists of other small insects that you’d rather not deal with. Spiders are a type of arachnid that can be found almost anywhere on Earth, and there are many different varieties of spiders that can be found within the Dallas/Fort Worth area. While essentially all spiders are venomous, very few species are harmful to humans, or even capable of biting through the skin.
Squirrels are rodents that most homeowners in the Dallas/Fort Worth area have dealt with at some point. You’ve probably seen them scurrying up and down trees in your yard or running across your roof. It can be fun to watch these active rodents, but the fun comes to an abrupt end when they choose your home as their nesting spot. Squirrels can easily find openings around your home that lead directly into walls and more likely, your attic. The entry point is widened by gnawing to make a baseball-sized hole so that they can move indoors and outdoors without a struggle.
Termites are both beneficial and destructive insects that homeowners and business owners in the Dallas / Forth Worth area have to deal with every year. Termites can feed 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and according to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year – an expense typically not covered by homeowners insurance. Subterranean termites, the most prevalent termites in our area, are found in every state in the United States except for Alaska.
Ticks are pests that consume blood from hosts such as dogs, wildlife, and humans. There are many types of ticks that can be found in the Dallas / Forth Worth area, with the most abundant being Brown Dog Ticks and Lone Star Ticks. By walking in tall grasses, brush, or unmanicured lawns, you open yourself (and your dog) up to tick bites. Both the Brown Tick and Lone Star Ticks in North Texas are capable of spreading disease. This makes tick prevention more important than ever.
Yellow jackets are small stinging pests that fly around the Dallas / Forth Worth area, starting in the spring and continuing through the summer. They’re the smallest of the stinging pests in Texas, measuring on ¾” as adults. Their bodies are covered in yellow and black stripes with two wings. Yellow jackets are comparatively more aggressive that other stinging insects that live in the Dallas area such as bald faced hornets and wasps. They have the ability to sting multiple times and are not afraid to do so.