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Unique Pest Infestations In Your Home and Garden

Although nuisances like ants, flies, and rodents are the most common culprits when it comes to home pests, you are bound to find a few unrecognizable creatures spreading throughout your living space and landscape as well.

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With tens of thousands of insect species in the US, the variety of bugs that can end up in your home—on purpose or completely by accident—depend on your region, your home’s architecture, and simply by pure coincidence. They can also grow out of control in your garden, ruining your plants or even threatening the safety and comfort of your outdoor lounging space.

Despite their massive differences, even unique insects commonly share several pest control measures and behaviors. Typically, insects have the same basic needs, reasons for coming indoors, and prevention methods. Read on to identify some of the stranger pests that may have come inside your home and what to do about it.

Why Do Pests Come Into Your Home?

Home pests can commonly be broken down into two main categories: those who want to be there and those who came in by accident. For example, many spiders have no interest in setting up shop inside your space unless you have a significant pest population to feed their hunger. For the most part, hitch a ride on a box, bag, or log of firewood and would prefer to be outside.

Other pests however, benefit from the protection and ideal feeding and nesting conditions of your space. Many bugs also thrive when they breed in great numbers in your garden, especially when they feed on decaying or new plant material. Insects may set up a home inside or in your garden for the following reasons:

Constant Food Source

Insects have a very wide range of preferred meals—including sugars, grains, organic material, other pests, and even your blood. Factors like pest infestations or leftover pet food will be in the carnivorous insects while omnivores will also search for fruits, grains, decaying plants.

Parasitic insects will come where people and animals gather, so these can be much harder to eliminate and discourage. Some pests will also eat non-food items, such as cloth and paper, leading to costly household damage.

Warmth and Shelter

On a very basic level, some creatures will simply find their way inside to build nests and reproduce, especially as temperatures drop or climb into the extreme highs. Pests will seek places to lay their eggs, such as in those areas that are in undisturbed like storage areas or close to piles of clutter.

Signals from Other Pests

Some pests leave pheromone trails for their species to alert them of their nests. This means that some pests should not only be removed from your space, but the area where they traveled and spread this scent should be thoroughly cleaned.

Types of Unique Home and Garden Pests

So, what should you do if you see an odd pest infestation all over your plans or throughout your home? Here are some quick ways to identify the most common pests throughout the US as well as whether the insect poses a threat to you or your home’s safety.

Aphids

These small, plant-feasting insects can be some of the most destructive pests to your garden and plants. Aphids can live year-round, even though you are more likely to find more of them in warmer temperatures and climates. Though they are unlikely to come indoors, they are considered major landscape pests once they bloom into a full infestation.

What Do They Look Like?

Aphids are very small—typically only an eighth of an inch—green, yellow, or white insects that congregate on plants. Some aphid varieties can also range from reddish-brown to black. The front of their bodies makes them easily identifiable. Long antennae and a straw-like extension from their mouths to extract nutrients from plants.

Where Do They Live?

You will find aphids on anything from trees and shrubbery leaves to flowers and vegetables in your garden. Aphids thrive in temperate zones throughout the world, as opposed to hotter tropical regions, though you may find them worldwide.

Are They Harmful?

The biggest issue with aphids is their threat to your garden and landscape. Aphids will leave behind a sticky dew that can grow a damaging mold or attract larger pests like wasps and ladybugs. Aphid infestations, therefore, are important to control to maintain the health of your outdoor ecosystem.

Crickets

Though these leaping creatures are often connected with good luck, an infestation of crickets can make a home uncomfortable and a backyard unlivable. Crickets can infiltrate your home when temperatures climb too high or when they can find access to food inside your space.

What Do They Look Like?

Depending on their species—of which there are many—a cricket will have a large segmented body, cylindrical torso, and a round head with long antennea. Their recognizable legs bend sharply upwards, propelling them to leap great lengths. While we often imagine crickets as bright green insects, they are more typically dark brown, black, or tan.

Where Do They Live?

Crickets enjoy humid and moist habitats, such as the areas around still bodies of water, in woodpiles, and throughout dense mulch. If crickets are concerned about hot and dry weather, they will find their way into attics, basements, and other living spaces for protection. They will also swarm around bright lights on the porch or in your garden.

Are They Harmful?

Though crickets will not bite or attack humans, they can consume fabrics and silks in large amounts, threatening the safety of your clothing and upholstery. When cricket populations grow to unnatural levels outside your home, they are most likely to make their way indoors.

Earwigs

There are few insects commonly found inside homes that are more unnerving than earwigs—both due to their appearance and the myths surrounding them. Despite their large pincers and urban legends, earwigs will rarely harm or interact with humans—and they are not known for climbing into people’s ears.

What Do They Look Like?

Earwigs are normally dark brown to black in color and have segmented bodies reaching up to 25 millimeters. They distinctly have two pinchers on one side of their bodies and long antennae on the other.

Where Do They Live?

Since they thrive around water sources, earwigs will make their way indoors if there is extreme dry weather outside or if they have access to decaying material for food. Once inside, you will typically find them in bathrooms, kitchens, and cellars. You will rarely spot an earwig during the day since they are nocturnal, but they will come out around light sources at night.

Are They Harmful?

Earwigs will rarely, if ever, pinch or bite humans. They do not live off of human blood nor are they particularly aggressive. However, earwigs like to lay eggs inside homes, particularly in underground burrows during the spring. If these offspring have easy access inside your home, it could quickly turn into an infestation.

Millipedes

Often confused with centipedes, millipedes are arthropods with hard-backed shells and several hundred legs. They need decaying plant material to survive and are not known to attack or bother humans.

What Do They Look Like?

Depending on your region and the species, these long, multi-legged creatures come in a wide range of colors, but they are typically dark brown to black. 

Where Do They Live?

Millipedes will typically find their way indoors if the outdoors is no longer hospitable. They thrive in warm, moist conditions and require access to decaying plant material. You are likely to find some species of millipedes in every state across the US.

Are They Harmful?

Millipedes in North America are not harmful to humans, but they can lay an abundance of eggs in and around your home. When even a small infestation of these long creatures infiltrate your home, it does not make for easy living conditions.

Pillbugs

These small pill-like bugs may bring back memories of childhood after living up a rock or piece of wood in the yard. These small land-based crustaceans are found in gardens, cellars, and other damp areas throughout your property, but rarely infiltrate homes unless dry weather pushes them indoors.

What Do They Look Like?

Pillbugs have thick exoskeletons that range from gray to dark brown or black. They are uniform in shape, specifically oval like a small pill. They mainly stay tucked beneath their bodies and they can roll up into a ball, like a small armadillo. 

Where Do They Live?

As crustaceans, even though they live on land, pillbugs need moisture to survive. You will find them in damp soil hiding beneath rocks, wood, and in plant beds. They also thrive in compost piles, mulch, and other areas with decaying plant material.

Are They Harmful?

Pillbugs post no threat to your safety. They do not bite and are not aggressive toward animals. Their only form of defense is rolling into a ball. Gardeners can be troubled by a pillbug infestation as their new plants start to form and they are unseemly if they make their way indoors.

Snails

Snails can be frustrating pests in gardens, especially when they grow past healthy numbers. Since they also thrive in moist areas, overwatering your garden can lead to an influx of these sticky pests.

What Do They Look Like?

Though they significantly range in size based on their species, snails generally appear with long, mucus-covered bodies topped off with a hard round shell. They also have large tentacles on their heads that appear like antennae.

Where Do They Live?

Snails live in moist soil around decaying plants, so they are only likely to come indoors when you transfer your potted plants inside for the summer.

Are They Harmful?

An overabundance of snails in your garden can lead to trouble for your plants, especially if numbers grow into an infestation. Snails are also known to carry disease—including meningitis—so they should never be handled, especially by children.

How to Prevent Pest Infestations

As we mentioned above, pests are likely to overproduce outside or make their way indoors when the conditions are ideal to survive, eat, and reproduce. There are plenty of simple ways to keep your environment in check.

Seal Your Perimeter

For most pests, cracks and holes in your home are the easiest way to find shelter and food away from predators. Weatherproof windows, doors, and your foundation to ensure that pests do not burrow into your space when the weather shifts. 

You can also keep garden pests away from the immediate circumference of your space by avoiding outdoor clutter like piles of old mulch, an abundance of compost, piles of food, or high grasses.

Balance Your Garden

When smell pests like aphids or ants take off in your garden, larger predators will follow. Address a visible abundance of any pest to make sure that your food chain is not tipped in the wrong direction. When too many bugs hover outdoors, they will likely find their way inside.

Protect Food Sources

Many home pests make fantastic scavengers and will eat a wide variety of human food, plants, and organic material. Keep all food sources hidden in air-tight containers and be sure to clean surfaces in your home to avoid attracting pests from outside.

Control Moisture

As you noted on this list, a large majority of pests thrive in moist areas or even need them to survive. Control the moisture in your home, especially in areas like your basement, with dehumidifiers and sump pumps. Always avoid standing water, especially after a storm in warm weather. In addition to the pests listed here, standing water can attract mosquitoes and other biting insects.

Professional Care for Unique Pests

One of the many factors that set Aptive apart is our in-depth training and experience in eradicating all types of pests from our customers’ homes. We provide eco-conscious treatments to both the inside and outside of your home’s perimeter than will neither pose a threat to you or the environment.

If you encounter a strange pest in your space, we always recommend calling one of our experts to help you identify the insect quickly and determine if you are at risk of an infestation. Not only will we remove the pest quickly and safely, but we will also make a plan for keeping them out for good.

With year-round pest control plans available across the country, Aptive is here to provide peace of mind whether you’re facing a familiar infestation or spotted an unnerving insect that you’ve never seen before.

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