Occasional invaders include a wide number of common pests found
throughout the United States that affect homeowners every year. While
primarily a nuisance, in some cases these pests can do damage to your
home or personal items. However, the main problem they pose comes from
the annoyance you’ll face when you have to deal with them.
In the greater Houston area, common occasional invaders include centipedes,
earwigs, Asian lady beetles, millipedes, silverfish, springtails, bird
mites, and clover mites.
Centipedes are long, flat arthropods with highly segmented bodies,
with each of their body segments containing one pair of legs. They are
named for their mass of legs, though the actual number can fluctuate
widely from just over a dozen to almost 200. They typically range in
length from under an inch to 6 inches long.
Centipedes are carnivores and will feed on worms, spiders,
silverfish, and other small vertebrates. While they are able to move
very quickly, they have poor eyesight, so they primarily rely on touch
and smell to find their prey. Centipedes are mostly nocturnal, hiding
during the day and emerging at night to forage.
Centipedes are generally found outside. During the day, they like
to hide in dark damp areas like under stones, mulch, leaf piles, and
rotting logs. If those same conditions can be found indoors, centipedes
will come inside, which is why they are often found in crawl spaces,
basements, closets, and bathrooms. Centipedes are exceptionally skilled
at hiding in the dark cracks and crevices of your home.
Also known as “pincher bugs”, earwigs are easily recognized by their
long, smooth bodies and pair of appendages at the tip of their abdomen
called “cerci”. They grow to about 5/8 of an inch long, with dark brown
to reddish-brown coloration.
Their name is derived from the myth that these insects would enter
human ears, burrow into the brain, and lay their eggs inside. However,
you can rest easy – they don’t.
Earwigs are typically outdoor insects, found in damp areas with lots
of moisture. However, in hot or dry days, that can be pushed inside,
especially if damp, dark areas are available within the home. Typical
indoor hiding places are under rugs or potted plants, in stacks of
newspapers and similar locations. During the night, they will come out
to feed on decaying plant material as well as other insects, including
fleas and mites. Occasionally, earwigs may be brought inside with the
morning newspaper, lawn furniture, or other outside items that they
were resting beneath.
Asian lady beetles are similar but distinguishable from ladybugs.
At about 1/4 inch long, they are slightly larger than ladybugs, with
coloration that ranges from mustard-yellow to dark reddish-orange
instead of bright red. Often, a number of spots are present on the
wing covers, but the number varies, and in some specimens, the spots
The key identifying marks on this beetle are two white, oval
markings on the pronotum (just behind its head) and an M-shaped
marking may also be present on the pronotum. This beetle (6 to 10mm)
is slightly larger than the two-spotted lady beetle (4 to 5mm). Larvae
are primarily black with orange lateral stripes.
Similar to centipedes, millipedes are also long, segmented
arthropods, but they are generally smaller, making up for their
smaller size with vastly more legs. Millipedes are typically brown or
black in color and tend to range from 1 to 2 inches in length. Unlike
centipedes, millipedes have two sets of legs for every segment of
their body instead of one. Their legs also make a distinctive wavelike
motion as they crawl along surfaces. Though its name implies it has a
thousand legs, it actually has somewhere between 60 and 400.
Most millipedes feed on damp and decaying vegetation and leaf litter.
They spend most of their lives in the soil, but may also overwinter in
leaf litter and debris found under trees. Occasionally, millipedes
will make their way from their moist living conditions into homes, but
will typically die because of lack of moisture and food. Millipedes are
also attracted to light and may be found in large numbers around patios,
driveways, decks, and commercial buildings and in parking lots.
Silverfish are small gray insects with a long, slender, flattened
body measuring from ½ to 1 inch in length. It derives its name from
the light grey and blue coloring which can shimmer and look silvery as
it moves its gradually tapering body across floors and surfaces in an
almost fish-like manner.
Silverfish are known to chew holes in clothing, upholstery, and
paper products they come into contact with. Their feeding habits can
be quite destructive in the event of a severe infestation. Silverfish
like humid areas of moderate temperature and are especially fond of
kitchen cupboards, basements, laundry rooms, attics, and under
bathroom sinks - these places also provide them with lots of potential
food to eat.
Getting rid of silverfish can be a difficult task as they are
generally nocturnal and can move about the entire property in search
of food and a place to nest. Due to the nature of silverfish, they can
be extremely elusive pests, hiding in cracks, attics, cupboards, and
under floors. The fact that they eat everyday items also makes it very
difficult to prevent them from damaging your property.
Springtails are six-legged arthropods with tiny, soft bodies
ranging in size from 1mm to 6mm. They tend to dwell in soil, leaf
litter, and other humid areas. Inside homes, they are commonly found
around window sills damaged by moisture, or around showers, tubs, and
Although they occur in a range of colors, to the naked eye they may
simply appear as a very small grayish speck that moves, or “jumps.”
While a springtail cannot actually jump with any of its six legs, it
gets its name from an appendage (resembling a tail) that is used to
hurl the springtail into the air and away from predators when it is
Although Springtails typically reside in soil outdoors they will
invade homes where humid conditions are present. Areas such as kitchens,
bathrooms, and damp basements are likely spots to find these creatures.
They are also found around window frames and if there are overwatered
potted plants you’ll find springtails in abundance.
Bird mites are minuscule parasites that typically affect birds. An
adult bird mite typically measures less than 1 millimeter (mm), with
a white or grayish oval body, hairy back, and eight legs. Although
bird mites are a pest, they aren’t a parasite to humans. They typically
live on the skin of different birds including chickens but can find
their way into homes and other structures.
Bird mites live on and feed on the blood of birds. Without bird
blood, they can’t complete their life cycle. A bird mite can develop
from egg to larva to nymph to mature adult in about 1 week. Some mites
die within 7 days, but others can live up to several weeks. These mites
originate in birds like chickens, pigeons, sparrows, and starlings,
but can also live near bird nests. They prefer warm climates, so
they’re typically active during the spring and early summer.
Clover mites are minuscule parasites about 1mm large with red
coloration. To the naked eye, they are no more than tiny red bugs and
appear no larger than a pinhead. During the spring and fall, females
lay vibrant red eggs in dry, protected cracks and crevices, most
popularly around bricks and under siding. When they hatch, clover mite
offspring are identical clones of their mothers.
For the most part, clover mites feed on clover, grassy lawns, plants
and weeds and tend to appear by the thousands in the spring and fall
months. However, clover mites will also crawl from the ground to
invade your home through cracks and tiny openings around windows and
doors. Inside, you may find them crawling around window sills, on walls,
or directly on windows. No larger than a pinhead, these red bugs will
leave behind a tell-tale stain when smashed.
While the danger level will vary, the main reason people dislike
occasional invaders comes from the nuisance factor they bring when
they swarm homes. Occasional invaders are not generally considered
dangerous and instead as nuisance pests; however, in some cases, these
pests can do damage to your home or personal items, especially in the
case of silverfish. However, their nuisance can also serve a benefit,
as their presence can indicate other issues that you may not have been
aware of, like moisture problems in your home.
The best advice when it comes to occasional invaders is simply to
give them no reason and no opportunity to come inside. Here are some
general tips you can use to protect yourself from occasional invaders
around your home:
Occasional invaders can be particularly difficult pests to eradicate.
These pests are often tiny, and while they may not be as tenacious as
some pests, they tend to infest homes in significant numbers when they
become a problem, making DIY pest treatments ineffective as they fail
to eliminate the entire infestation.
Even if the pest that’s bothering you isn’t an immediate threat,
it’s always best to leave it to the professionals. DIY pest control
generally does not address the root of the problem, while it may get
rid of the pest for a short period, they will often come back. That’s
where a professional home pest
treatment regiment from Guard Pest Control comes in.
An inspection and treatment by our
greater Houston pest control professionals can help eliminate these pests
and identify issues that may be contributing to their presence. No
matter what pest is bugging you or the size of the infestation, Guard
Pest Control can help. Our team of pest experts have all the tools and
know-how you need to make any occasional invader around your home a
distant memory. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.
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