Category Archives: Household pests

Posts on insect pests of structures.

Flag waving for Americans

The ensign wasp is one of the odder insects found occasionally in homes.  A small insect, only 5-7 mm long, it does not sting or bite.  In fact, it does no harm; but it is a beneficial parasite of at least three household cockroaches, the American cockroach being the most common. Ensign wasps are experts at locating not the cockroaches themselves, but the egg cases (oothecae) that cockroaches deposit.  According to one account, when the female ensign wasp encounters a cockroach egg case, she first taps it with her antennae, presumably… Read More →

Rutgers study shows best home treatments for bed bugs

Bed bugs are best treated by an experienced professional.  Let me say that again…  If you have bed bugs, and you can hire a professional who knows what they’re doing, then do it.  It can save you much grief and lost sleep. Now that I’ve said that, let me address those who, for whatever reason, must fight bed bugs without professional help. If professional service is not in the cards for you right now, you have some options. First consider the approach outlined in my fact sheet on… Read More →

Never more than 5 feet from a (wolf) spider

I was reminded the other day of the old saying “You’re never more than five feet from a spider”.  I was working on the computer when I glanced up from my keyboard to look into the face of a BIG wolf spider. It was sitting on the base of my computer monitor about 2 feet away. After the initial startle reaction (even entomologists are human) I had to smile.  I really do like spiders–if not especially on my keyboard–and I was thinking how most of my non-entomologist friends would react to… Read More →

Carpenter ant season is now

Many social insects periodically do something called “swarming”.  Swarming occurs when reproductively mature, but unmated, kings and queens leave the nest to mate.  These mating couples are winged and are referred to as alates, or swarmers.  The earliest swarmers to emerge in the winter are carpenter ants. This week my youngest daughter, home for the weekend for a visit, informed her entomologist dad that the upstairs shower was covered with large ants.  A quick inspection confirmed that we were being invaded by carpenter ants.  A few years ago… Read More →

Rubbing alcohol not a good solution for bed bugs

The quest for home remedies for bed bugs appears to be never-ending.  However, in the latest revelations from researchers, it seems that very few home insecticides are worth the time or trouble when battling bed bugs.  That’s not to say that some of these products won’t kill some bed bugs, but the ideal product for killing bed bugs just isn’t out there, experts say. A recent article in Science News  gloomily summarizes some of the most current information about DIY bed bug control, based on papers presented on bed… Read More →

Homeless insects and energy audits

When cold weather comes knocking, it should be no surprise that hundreds, or even thousands, of insects may be waiting for you to open the door this fall.  It’s not like you can really blame them.  They are just temporarily homeless critters looking for a warm place to spend the winter. I was staying at a hotel this week in Austin for the Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting, and on my 23rd floor window I looked out and saw dozens of hackberry nipple-gall maker insects on the… Read More →

A squirrelly problem

Squirrels may be cute, and I enjoy watching squirrels in the woods as much as anyone.  I’m less entranced, however, by the squirrel cartel currently occupying my backyard. A few weeks ago, after returning home from an out of town trip, I noticed something wasn’t quite right with the cedar elm tree in my backyard.  An entire branch of the tree appeared to be dead.  Inspection close to the trunk revealed that the bark had been peeled off, chewed off actually, girdling the entire branch. I had noticed… Read More →

What to do if you’re attacked by bees?

While honey bees are highly beneficial to man, they can also be dangerous.  If you don’t believe this, consider two Texas incidents this summer.  In June, a Waco area man was killed by honey bees while working on his tractor.  This past weekend a couple was severely stung and two of their miniature horses were killed following a bee attack at their Tarrant county home.  Both incidents illustrate how serious honey bee infestations can be. It’s not that bees are mean, in a human sense. But they do take exception… Read More →

New bed bug publication

Got bed bugs? There’s help on the way in the form of a new AgriLife Extension fact sheet. Extension publication Ento-033, How to Select a Bed Bug Control Provider gives practical advice on what to look for when seeking professional help for these pests. Not just any pest control company will be able to provide you with the kind of service and control you need to get rid of bed bugs. This publication tells you how to interview a company, and compare different companies to make sure you… Read More →

It must bee spring

Despite a winter that just won’t seem to let go, spring is definitely here. I know this because the honey bees are swarming, and local callers are reaching out to Extension offices for help coping with the sudden bee invasion. According to Shelly Spearman of the Rockwall County Extension office, her office is getting one to two calls a day about bees. “We’re getting a lot of calls about bees hanging out in trees,” she said. So why are bee mobs suddenly invading our trees and landscapes?  And… Read More →